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Are we really friends?

Columns2012  Am I the only one who is continuously annoyed with Facebook?

I don’t have lots of time to spend on Facebook.  I just want a data dump from Facebook friends about what is going on in their lives.

My biggest peeve with Facebook isn’t really with Facebook itself.  It’s trying to figure out philosophically what exactly Facebook is supposed to do.  Yes, it is called social networking, and I get that.

But everything focuses on “friends.”

In the Facebook world, exactly who or what is a friend?

How many friends can one have?

How about acquaintances?

Or friends of friends?

Or friends of friend of friends

I say this because I see people on Facebook with thousands of friends.  I am not talking about people who achieve celebrity status, which naturally attracts attention from great numbers of people.

I am talking about regular, ordinary Joes.

Who really has 5,000 friends or even 1,000 friends?

Is 500 too many or 50 too few?

Maybe it all boils down to the definition of friend or the perspective one has regarding what constitutes a friend.

I enjoy my Facebook family, and that includes “friends.”

Like other Facebookers, I acquired friends through either asking someone to “friend” me or being asked by someone else to “friend” them.

For anyone reading this, please believe me – I like being your friend.

That’s because I have what I consider to be a reasonable number of “friends” and I really enjoy keeping up with each of you.

And from time-to-time I post an update as well, just in case anyone is interested in keeping up with me.

After perusing my friend list, I find there are only a few friends I haven’t actually met, but know through some association of family member or other friends – you know…the “mutual” friend.

And there is one, maybe two instances tops (and I am not referring to anyone who would be reading this) where I was so delighted to renew long ago friendships with people I grew up with.

But after many months of commenting back and forth, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t know at least one of these friends.

Understand, this is not like “we have grown apart” type not knowing.

Literally, I do not know them.

They do not know me.

We have no mutual friends - only friends with similar names.

Yes, it is a Facebook faux pas – a faux friend.

I have friended people I do not know, but thought I did.

I have carried on conversations with them, limited at best, but communications that would constitute a conversation.

Curiosity got the best of me recently as I was scratching my head about one of my Facebook friends.

The name was familiar, but that picture was not.

Not even close.

I found my suspicion growing that maybe, just maybe, this isn’t who I thought it was.

And now I am confident that we don’t actually know each other.

I don’t know her, her spouse, her children, her children’s’ spouses, her grandchildren or her dog.  I have never been to her house, and I don’t think I have ever even been to the town where she lives.  But we continue to post comments to each other.

So my quandary is, are we really friends?

Or are we friends in name only, that being Facebook faux friends?

Does it matter?

I’m not staying awake at night pondering this, but how did it happen, and does she know it?

Should I “unfriend” her or “block” her?

This all sounds so Facebook unfriendly.

When I consider the Facebookers who have thousands of friends, the notion is trivial.

Surely they wouldn’t notice or care.

It’s not hurting anyone I suppose, but it’s like a mismatched button on a shirt, or a hangnail that provides that constant urge to rip it off.

On the other hand, she’s helping keep my numbers up.

And in comparison to some of my Facebook friends, my numbers are pathetically low.

So I guess I will keep her after all.

I just hope she feels the same.

I guess the old adage is true, especially as it applies to Facebook – you can never have too many friends.