Are we Just Facebook Friends?

facebook logoLet’s be honest. Most, if not all, of the people we know (yes, you included) have a Facebook account and those who did not probably received a disappointed shrug or a confused stare, followed by the user convincing the non-user of the benefits of Facebook.

I followed the trend when I signed up for Facebook on my eighteenth birthday in 2009, convinced that it was a better social networking site compared to Friendster due to its photo tagging features. When I first started, I only added the contacts of few of my closest friends. That was the basis of social networking site – as a platform to share your private life only with people you care about. I was still hyped up about the new social media and how connected everyone seemed with simply a click of a button.

“You’re on Facebook too? Let’s be Facebook Friends!”

Friend requests poured in as quickly as I sent them out. I added those who had been pestering me to sign up for several months beforehand. I accepted requests from acquaintances to avoid the risk of being rude. Too soon, I was adding and accepting contacts that I barely know in person, and unknowingly allowing them full access to my private life. At one point within the first few years, I realised that I had accumulated up to almost 800 Facebook friends.

What a surprising achievement, I once thought.

I know this person in university who measured popularity by the number of Facebook Friends one has. Her goal was to reach 1000 Facebook Friends within the first few months of entering the University. So she sent out requests to all in the same faculty. I received the friend request too, although I had never spoken to her then and after 4 years in my university life, I accepted the friend request because I didn’t want to be rude.

thumbs_fyi-spring-cleaning-facebook-friends-friendship-ecards-someecardsEventually, I came to my senses and started to filter my ‘friends’. As I browsed through the list, I realised that I may not know a lot of these people. The misconception is that not being Facebook Friends translates to not being friends in real life. This is not true. Crude as it may be, it is easier to delete those ‘friends’ of whose the probability to see each other in the future is so slim that it is more likely to get struck by a lightning first.

After deleting hundreds of contacts, I only received several friend requests back, however, from the same people that I have never talked to or had anything in common with apart from being in the same place at the same time; but I was pretty sure it was from the synchronised from email accounts.

How I Met My Facebook Friends

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Out of the 600+ Facebook Friends, it is to nobody’s surprise that I met 76% of my Facebook Friends from my 18 years of education, mainly from high school and university. My primary school and college has fewer students in comparison. I was lucky enough to be in two or more school with about 25 of them.

There are some people I would never cross paths with it weren’t for our mutual friends. Thanks to 2 people that invited me into the circle of friends, I now meet some of my close friends to date. The remaining mutual friends are during my time in the UK and Australia.

The mandatory Facebook requests to accept are from your relatives. I am somewhat obligated to accept their friend requests, some I regretted but could not delete as it may create a big havoc.

Unfortunately, I have still a couple of unknown contacts that I do not have a single clue how I know them – or who they are. It is tempting to click the ‘unfriend’ button, but I feel that I should at least figure out who they are first.

How Frequent I Contact My Facebook Friends

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Throughout my life, I have talked to more than half my Facebook Friends either virtually or in person for many occasions. At least that counts for something. Out of this 52%, I am close to about 40 of them, and went out socially with about half of them.

I talked moderately to about 27% , due to being in the same school or being in the same clubs. There are over 40 people that I literally talked once in my life and never contact or be contacted with after we are Facebook Friends. These people are mostly from volunteering programs, scholarship applications or once again, from mutual friends. If that isn’t disappointing enough, there are about 25 people I have never talked in person or even chatted with.

Keeping in Touch and Status at One Point in Life

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Here’s another statistic: I have chatter or talked with only 15% of these Facebook Friends in the last 6 months. With the technology nowadays, we are able to chat with these people online, yet we choose tor remain silent. It is kind of sad, don’t you think?

The people that disappeared over the years did so for a reason – we weren’t ‘friends’ to begin with and we never actually spoke after we’d added each other –suzie81

I feel about one fifth of my total Facebook Friends are friends in actual life and the remaining 80% as acquaintances. At one point in life, we were friends but sometimes we are just too busy in our own lives that we fall out of touch… I just hope that these people considered me as friends in real life too. (:

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There were a couple of times I thought of deleting my Facebook account. The longest I went to deactivate my account was about 2 months. Although we understand the risk of exposing our private lives, we cannot deny that the benefits it brings. As its popularity rises and everyone using one major social network, it was easy to connect with others.

I generally categorise the different Facebook users:

  • The Normal – The one who posts relevant photos and status updates and will appear in others’ news feed.
  • The Lurker – It’s like you don’t exist at all, but you keep an account to keep tabs on others.
  • The Popular – Have 2000 friends on Facebook for no reason.
  • The ‘Like’ Machine – Press like for every post and photo you scroll upon.
  • The Announcer – Post a status update every time he/she changes a location.
  • The Foodie –  Takes pictures of all food and post them on Facebook.
  • The Hashtagger – The one who linked their Instagram account with Facebook. #ootd
  • The Honeymooner – You’re in love, we get it.
  • The Baby Machine – Every post is about your kid. So is your profile picture.
  • The Traveller – Seems like you have been many places in the world. Keep those pictures coming.
  • The Quoter – Never with a decent status update; always with quotes from books or movies.
  • The Photographer – The one that takes beautiful photographs, and then tag 50 people in it.
  • The Workout Guru – Post post-working out pictures in gym and your well-ripped body.  
  • The Healthy Eater – The one who posts links on healthy food and natural remedies.
  • The One Who Should Get a Blog – Each status update is at least 300 words long.
  • The Gospel – Share everything about religions and ending every post with giving praises to Him
  • The Selfie – The one that enjoys talking pictures of themselves all the time, probably with duck faces. Probably change the profile picture once a month.

Through browsing of my news feed (and excellent stalking skills), I am able to know that a friend had met his childhood hero, or a few of them has took part in a charity run, or that another friend has been successful in the Wimbledon ballot. The community are brought closer when they are part of the same group. I would be able to see graduation pictures of close friends in different continents, wedding photos of a high school friend, or see pictures of beautiful places I have never been to.

Today, I read the news on about a family who lost a $80,000 settlement due to breach in contract; the teen has boasted about winning the lawsuit in a Facebook post. A British banker had caused outrage when he sneered at poor people for using the public transport in Singapore on Facebook, causing him to lose his job and flee to Australia. Racist remarks and threats on Facebook landed a man in jail. And the list went on

Perhaps, Facebook is a mixed blessing. Through Facebook, we stayed connected. But sometimes, over-sharing kills. We need to find the balance between privacy and security, only then we can truly be comfortable in the social networking era.

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9 thoughts on “Are we Just Facebook Friends?

  1. andy1076 says:

    Facebook very very quickly went from a fun place for family and friends to suddenly a numbers game, popularity is driven by who has the most friends all of a sudden, the fact that there are a bunch of games that reward adding random people into your list doesn’t help either.

    I heard about the British banker too, Still shaking my head trying to wrap my head around whatever he must of been thinking when he made that statement, geeeeezz!

    • Jill says:

      I didn’t know there are games that reward adding random people to your friends list. That’s frightening.

      About the British banker, the problem when he made that statement is that he wasn’t thinking at all. And posting that picture on a social network adds to the problem. If words slipped out during normal conversations, it is less likely to cause such severe consequences..

      • andy1076 says:

        Oh there are lots, Farmville and Cafe world etc, they ask you to invite one friend after another for the sake of getting ingredients or parts, then on the pages they encourage you to add more. Quite something isn’t it?

  2. Pete says:

    I am one of the people who do not have Facebook and detest it with a passion. It causes arguments, breakup of real friendships and has even caused a murder and attempted murder of two people who ‘unfriend’ two others. I have said this before but if you look at the code for Facebook it has lots of 666’s in it ………..Is Facebook the anti-Christ and I wonder what people would do if suddenly Facebook ended, just like this sentence

  3. edgar62 says:

    I agree with andy1076 that today it is not the fun it used to be and it is largely a numbers game – the person with the most “friends” wins, which is why we get friend request from total strangers. They don’t care about you, they just need you to add to their numbers. But then blogging is a stats game for many people – it’s like the old TV Show – “Never mind the Quality – Feel the width” I don’t play games, so my popularity is not all that great but for me this is good because I can manage what I do.

    • Jill says:

      I agree! Statistics can make a person feel good about themselves, but it is superficial. We should only have contacts on Facebook that we want to keep in touch with in the future.

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