Sunday, September 30, 2007


Another highlight of visiting Michi was her showing me how to navigate Facebook. I feel awkward about Facebook. It seems static. I'm not sure I'm camping there for good. Unlike Blogger, it’s not focused on posts and writing. But it does have a neat layout, lots of gadgets and groups.
My Facebook status is among the most modest imaginable. I’ve got six friends, and holding. I’ve come across many people I met on the internet, but I wouldn’t presume to be-friend (sic) them without occasion. Blogger is more casual in that way. I’ll throw up a link because I like it, not because I pretend to actually know someone.
My Facebook friend list consists of three face-to-face friends. The other three are people I know from the internet whom I feel comfortable be-friending. My brother Shane is on Facebook, but I’m not be-friending him for now. His friends are all MIT grads, and he doesn’t like poetry. So what’s to say?
Considering this weird beginning, it was interesting to read this Slate article by a woman who just managed to purge her friend list from 274 to 258. She achieved this by eliminating the people she never met in person. My mind kind of boggles at that. She has befriended 258 Facebook friends in person. I really need an hour to sit down and work that out. Even if I were a single college student, I can’t imagine counting that many people on my friend list, however superficial the friendship. The writer mentions those are just her friends who are on Facebook; most of her friends, she says, are not on Facebook. All I can say is holy shit. Does this lady have time to shower, or does she have an email address labeled “everyone I’m friends with at Facebook?”
Call me old-fashioned, but unless you’re doing some serious career-networking or looking for customers or running a brothel, if you’ve got over 250 friends, some weird dynamic has taken over. You’re either sponsoring a charity, or you’re a kind of a slut to friendship.


Harry said...

I think there's a division between people who actually think of their facebook/myspace friends as, well, friends and those who treat it as something altogether looser. Say I 'know' someone on the internet - I read their blog and occasionally comment, or whatever - clearly they're not my friend but then, if I befriend them on Facebook that doesn't exactly amount to an invitation to my wedding, either. I think people can tell the difference.

Perhaps they should have picked a different word, but *shrug*.

SarahJane said...

Hi -
yes, also my blogger "friends" are mostly acquaintances, internet acquaintances. and of course I'm sure that pretty much all these facebook "friends" are not "friends" you'd expect to care for you when you have a cold, or come to your wedding or even carpool with, but I still find be-friending someone on Facebook different than reciprocal blog links and/or blog commenting.
you're right - they probably should have just picked a different word, maybe, um, "faces?" (just kidding, groan)
still, i can't imagine having 250 blog links on my blog. what would be the point anymore?

Dave said...

"Friends" in an online social networking context is clearly a different word, since the verb form, "to friend," is novel. I think the best translation would be "contacts" - the term Flickr uses. Actually, though I haven't done much with the social networking side of flickr, I do think that model makes more sense: connecting people on the basis of a shared interest, and encouraging them to comment on each other's works. Livejournal,, and some other blog platforms do something similar, with less success. I joined Facebook about a month ago, but I treat it as an appendage to my blogging, importing the Via Neg RSS feed as Notes and making prominent use of the Blog Friends app (which unfortunately, however, doesn't work all that well). Eventually I'll probably get around to joingng some poetry- and literature-focused groups with an eye toward promoting qarrtsiluni. My other thought, when I joined, was to keep up with non-blogging friends a little better, and hopeful get back in touch with people I've lost contact with over the years.

Anyway, if you feel like friending me (search for Dave Bonta), I'd be happy to return the favor. If not, that's cool.

SarahJane said...

I did not mean to seem un-friend-ly! I only meant to say that 250+ friends seems like a whole hell of a lot to keep track of. And also, since one asks the be-friended for persmission on Facebook, it seems more direct.
Maybe I'm wondering, mostly, what I'm doing on Facebook...
Anyway, Dave, of course I'll be friends with you, bringing me to 7 friends! yeah!

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