Social networking sites – friends or not friends

In the world of the internet, friendships mean something different.

When I was younger, in my twenties, about a million trillion years ago, we used to differentiate between friends & acquaintances. I don’t know why & I can’t remember why. I can’t remember what the difference was. As far as I am concerned, we go through life by ourselves. Help from other people is often illusory. We all try to help others but often it doesn’t do that much good. Often we help others in order to feel better ourselves or for the sake of quiet life. But on the whole it probably doesn’t do much good.

As far as I remember, the difference between friends & acquaintances is that you only had a few friends & more acquaintances. You probably had 2 or 3 good friends & about 20 acquaintances. Goodness all that awful intimacy. About people (usually women) had treated us males so badly. Save me from close friends. I don’t want them. I can be a shoulder to cry on anytime you like. I can be your friend. But not a close friend. I want to discuss early music, chess, Go, politics (well left of centre politics,) human rights, family matters, art, writing, stuff like that. I am can be a shoulder to cry on or a friend; maybe not both. But maybe I can be. But I am not going to cry on your shoulder. If I feel depressed, I’ll eat an apple.  Cyber friends are true friends. They are concerned about the World. They are concerned about peace, war, human rights, state terrorism, abolition of the death penalty, horrible diseases like cancer & Alzheimer’s. I enjoy meeting people, in fact I love meeting new people, I especially love meeting new people but don’t expect me to discuss whether your hair looks nice or if my tie is the wrong colour or the royal family or the latest pop music or this or that actor’s latest affairs or the private life of this sleazebag or that.

With the advent of the internet, people get on with their lives more. They don’t have to worry about whether people really love them or not. Or what is the meaning of life. There isn’t really any meaning to life. In fact we find ourselves on this planet between Mercury & Mars by sheer accident.

Of course the World was different up until recently. Modern technology has changed much. Before the appearance of the mobile phone, I had a lot of messed up rendezvous. I am sure this happened with many other people too. But mobile phones have in that sense at least made life easier.  And the internet has changed everything.

What happens with the internet is that people get on with their lives more. We know what is going on in the World more. We have more information. We don’t worry about whether this or that person loves us or not. It no longer matters.  Of course it is true that we get an overload of information. But that was becoming true even before the advent of the internet & isn’t solely the fault of the internet.

I have about 140 friends on my Facebook page, on the other social network sites I am on, less than 10 on each. The amount of friends on my Facebook seems to go up & down without me doing anything. I don’t know why. When I first went onto Facebook a year or 2 ago, it kept telling me I didn’t have any friends. That was not true, I hope not anyway.

It is true that I haven’t ever met some of the people on my Facebook page. It is also true that some of them I have only met after first contacting them on Facebook. My MP is on my page. I can’t actually say she is a friend as in fact I have only met her once. She was less impressive than I had thought she would be. It is unlikely I would vote for again. It is unlikely she will be able to attach UK Parliament to her name after the next election. But I have reconnected with people I used to know in my past. And there is nothing wrong with that. It is interesting & fun to know what they are doing these days. In fact it is just good to know (in some cases) that they are still alive.

So what is the meaning of friendship anyway? The question is, what is the meaning,  the definition of friendship. People say ( I have said it myself) that online friendships are not real friendships. But of course they are just as valid as any other kind of friendship. My Facebook friends me inform of human rights issues, animal rights issues, music events. It reminds me of events I would otherwise have forgotten (on occasion at any rate.) Facebook has enabled me to get back in touch with people I haven’t seen for ages. And we have online chats which are funny & informative.

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