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Friend Devaluation

I can’t take credit for finding it — that goes to Matt — but this video is a hilarious take on Facebook in real life.

Seeing this reminded me of something I’ve thought for quite a while: sites like Facebook, MySpace, etc all devalue the label of “friend”.

Some context: Facebook and Linked In are the only social networks I use with any regularity. I’ve had accounts on others (Orkut, anyone?) but those I haven’t deleted have long since gone fallow. I use Facebook and Linked In for two distinct purposes: connecting with friends and connecting with work contacts, respectively. For some time I’ve been taking a rather hard line in both respects. For example, working at Creative Commons gives me an opportunity to work with our international affiliates. One of them really wanted to be my friend on Facebook. The problem is, we’re not friends. I think he’s a perfectly decent guy, but I’ve never met him, never hung out, never done the things friends do. So I declined him, again and again, finally sending him a message saying “look, I get it, but we’re not friends”. His unexpected reply was not combative or offended but rather, “Oops, I was using the contact finder feature, I totally get what you’re saying” (note that I think this supports the idea that social networks enable socially acceptable spam).

So if you don’t want your mom (or co-workers, or boss, etc) to see pictures of you covered in “puke and piss”, do two things: learn about the privacy settings in Facebook and only add friends who are your, well, friends. Alternately don’t put yourself in situations where you can be photographed covered in puke and/or piss, but really, let’s focus on achievable goals.