A little thing called friendship

Apart from being a transport ship built in 1784, what does friendship really mean? I ask this because there have been a lot of reports recently in the National Press and the Blogosphere about how most Facebook and MySpace friends will be "false friends" or "nodding acquaintances", individuals that you would smile at on the street or on the train but are unlikely to talk to or know their name. According to a new report "EPSRC/ESRC funded project on technology and social networks" the typical user of a social networking site will have at least 150 friends listed (that's 95 friends more than me so I guess I must be below average).

The report also found that only a few of these friends are "true friends". So what does this say about our use of Social Networking sites? In my mind two things. The total number of friends you have listed is usually dependant on how you are using the site for instance If I was using Facebook as a business networking tool that number might well be a lot higher. I can honestly say that I have met or know 98% of my Facebook friends, would I still consider them my friends or go out for beers with them if Facebook ceased to exist? Yes definitely.

Secondly Social Networking sites shouldn't be used as friend gathering tools, unfortunately human nature dictates that users will do this and the sites encourage you to gather more friends by making tools like Friend Finder and applications like Compare People and Superlatives available.

The whole friend request and friend functionality is I believe being looked at by Facebook, the friends listing would certainly benefit from the addition of categories like Work friends, Family, Bogging friends and so on. It is and will remain one of the biggest draws of Facebook and the opportunity to identify and socialise with friends or groups of like-minded individuals should be encouraged. So get out there and make some friends!