Saturday, August 27, 2011
With "Friends" like these...
A few years ago, when I didn't know what Facebook was, I heard two students in the hallway comparing the number of friends each had. One said he had 250 friends. The other said he had 290, and had added fifteen in the last few days. I was impressed, and I stopped to ask if they had been to camp recently, or some community activity, or a family reunion, to find themselves blessed with so many friends.
They explained to me that they were referring go their Facebook "Friends," and in fact had never met roughly 90 percent of them. In other words, they were referring to photographs which represented numbers, which in turn indicated nothing more intimate than the willingness of a lot of people to add their names to lists kept by strangers, as long as the "favor" could be reciprocated. These "friends" did not actually know them or ever even talk to them. They certainly could not be called upon for a ride to the airport, or a shoulder to cry on. They were "friends" in a sense which seemed quite alien and sad to me.
Now, there's another way to "value your friends." If you refer them to your cable service, they represent one hundred dollars each. That's how much money you can get for each friend who signs up for DirectTV, as long as they are "friendly" enough to reference your name and membership number when they do so. The next time you look at someone you think is your friend, just imagine them as a big, ugly one hundred dollar bill. But only ten of them- there is a limit to this offer, after all. just like there is a limit to friendship- right?
Well, I suppose this was inevitable. First, friends are just names and faces willing to use you to pad their Facebook total. Now, they represent money. Because after all, how much do you REALLY value Facebook Friend #346, compared to a hundred bucks?
As far as I'm concerned, "valuing" your friends by seeing them as representing an opportunity to make money is no less cynical and crass as using them to make your list of Facebook "Friends" artificially larger.
Remember Society? Wasn't that fun, while it lasted?