It takes all kinds to make up this world. But when it comes to social-media; to this day, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of what a “friend” means. Unlike a lot of the social-media extroverts out there, I have always been much more guarded in my choice of friends. Based on my experience, it takes a lot of time and energy to nurture a true friendship. That is one reason why it is virtually impossible for me to grasp how any one person can have several hundred or even several thousand friends. What is even more unfathomable is many of these sites that have the most friends are usually the same ones that are constantly in search of collecting even more friends. For the most part, it is common for these sites to ignore all privacy settings in favor of inviting the public into their seemingly attention-deprived world. OK, I admit that may be a little opinionated; but like I said earlier, it takes all kinds. Essentially, many of these so-called friends are purely an assemblage of strangers who are collected on a site as a trophy, very similar to how a hoarder collects objects. Unlike a hoarder’s immaterial indulges, these friends actually have a specific role which is to pump up the already over-inflated egos of these attention-seeking site holders. It is interesting that these followers are called friends. This brings to mind the question, has social-media redefined what a friend is?
Now getting back to my pointed opinion, I honestly do not get why anyone would want hundreds of would-be strangers to freely view their personal information and pictures which are, by the way, typically posted in abundance on the more self-indulged websites. I get it that there are various productive uses of social media sites such as business owners who use it as a marketing strategy to attract and/or retain clients. Another such instance may be for an aspiring entertainer to gain new followers. I understand these and other practical uses for acquiring many friends on social media sites which I will later elaborate on in further detail. For me, the disconnect with this concept are the sites that primarily belong to middle-aged persons who, in my opinion, scream “Look at me, I am starving for attention!” for no other reason than to accumulate more so-called friends to stroke their narcissistic egos.
Interestingly enough, there is usually only a small percentage TikTok volgers kopen of the friends on these social media sites (e.g., 5-15%) who express comments and likes on a regular basis. However, the site holder seems to desperately rely on this small subset of friends to “Like” their selfies and constantly reiterate to them how wonderful, beautiful, lovely and gorgeous they are. And because there are usually no filters or privacy settings on these sites, intimate messages between husbands and wives and/or between lovers, are put on full public display. Some of the “friends” on these sites appear to have found a very convenient way to flirt and hook-up with other “friends” because now they can make inappropriate sexual comments or posts and it is now referred to as “Like” instead of “Lust”… how convenient! On some of these sites, the flurry of “Likes” and comments made by the subset of friends after someone posts yet another selfie, remind me of a pack of dogs in heat all vying for the attention of one female dog. That may work in the animal kingdom, but on middle-aged social-media sites, not so much in my humble opinion.
The irony of this spectacle is that many social-media friends take their role very seriously no matter how close or distant their actual connection is to the site holder. I already discussed the role of the subset of friends who are responsible for feeding the egos of some of these site holders. However, even strangers on these sites, i.e., friends, have a role. They have been given carte blanche by the site holder to participate in a peep-show of sorts which overflows with personal information. Some of these sites are a criminal’s, i.e., friends, dream because they are provided free reign over all types of information from where a person lives, where they work, their birth place, birth year, maiden name, family contacts, where they vacation, when they vacation, who they vacation with and the list goes on. I have read stories about major drama that can ensue after some friends/strangers have been unfriended from a website. Nowadays the act of unfriending someone from these sites can be considered a fate worse than death because, like I said, these friends take their role very seriously. I know of people who would rather take the cowardly way out of unfriending a person from their website. Instead, they prefer to either abandon or shut down their entire site than to face a “friend” and tell them they have reconsidered the status of their friendship. Or even worse, avoid telling a mere acquaintance, “No”, if they ask to be added as a friend even if the site holder really does not want to friend them. Real friends would understand, but in the case of social media, it is not very clear what a real friend is.
Just for kicks, I googled the word “friend” and found the definition that I am most comfortable with which is, “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard”. I scrolled down further to view the last entry of the definition and it stated that a friend is: “a person associated with another as a contact on a social-media website”. I was amused by the example provided to demonstrate the correct use of the word friend in a sentence which stated: “We’ve never met, but we’re Facebook friends”. This social-media definition exemplifies my disconnect with the new-found definition of a friend. It seems to dehumanize the person in place of a thing, e.g., a contact. However, both friends and contacts seem to have the same level of importance and emotional connection to their mutual friend on social media.