This post was written by my student, Ashely Altis. I think her topic and writing are very applicable to today’s culture. Please comment so she can get her some feedback on her writing (either here or on Facebook)! What do you think? Has Facebook cheapened our view of a “friend”?
The word “friend” is a word that is of great importance in the world. The word is not one to be taken lightly or underappreciated. It is a title that carries much responsibility for the holder. However, many people in the world today seem to have forgotten this. Culture has shaped the word “friend” into one that boasts of much less importance than its true meaning. This has happened especially through the invention of Facebook. Since the coming of Facebook, the word has taken on a more shallow meaning in some ways. Facebook has reduced the meaning of the word “friend” to little more than that of a “fan” or “follower,” but a true friend is a person who stands by someone, is able to be there for that person in a real way, and is able to spend time with that person.
Culture has shaped the word “friend” and changed its meaning dramatically since the invention of Facebook. The meaning of the word “friend,” in terms of Facebook, has been reduced to one more like the meaning of a “fan” or “follower.” A “friend” is now someone that can be viewed on a computer screen with no face-to-face interaction required, and “friends” can view each other’s interactions with others over the internet. People can have friends that they have never even met before and ones they have only talked to a few times. They can also have some friends that they cannot even remember how they know. In real life, most people would not claim anyone who fell into any of those categories as a friend, but Facebook clearly defines this differently. “Friends” are now defined as people who can view each other’s profiles to “get to know” each other.
Because of Facebook, many people have distanced themselves from the true meaning of the word “friend” and taken on this newer and easier version of the word. If the Facebook meaning of the word “friend” is thought to be the real meaning, then people no longer have to try and work as hard at having friends. In fact, Junghyun Kim and Jong-Eun Roselyn Lee, writers of the article “The Facebook Paths to Happiness: Effects of the Number of Facebook Friends and Self-Presentation on Subjective Well-Being,” say it this way: “In the world of Facebook…it does not take much effort to become ‘friends’ with other Facebook users; once formed, the ‘friendship’ does not require strong attachment or close connections” (360). Thus, in the technological world of today, where people have become more accustomed to using technology for just about everything, being a Facebook friend is often easier and more convenient than being a real friend. Many people have resolved to take the easy way out, and in doing so, they have left behind true, meaningful, “in person” friendships.
Contrary to what many of those in the world of Facebook have come to believe, a true friend is a person who stands by someone and is able to be there for that person in a real way. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word like this: “One joined to another in mutual benevolence and intimacy” (“Friend” def. 1a.). Unlike many Facebook friends, a true friend is someone who is always there and can always be counted on. An “in person” friend can often provide much more help and comfort than a Facebook friend can with words on a computer screen. Facebook friends cannot give hugs, help someone up when she falls, or give any other form of physical connection from their computer screen. Real friends are able to share one another’s burdens, as well as laughter and happiness, in a more real way than friends on Facebook are able to. Unlike Facebook friends, an “in person” friend has the privilege and the chance of physically being there for someone. This kind of interaction gives real friends a more concrete quality that is unattainable by Facebook friends.
In addition, friends that are physically together are able to spend time together. They can go to the movies, have sleepovers, or have long conversations while lying out under the stars. Facebook friends, however, have a little more trouble doing this. A Facebook “friendship” mostly consists of chat conversations, wall posts, and commenting on things that the other person posts, “likes,” or uploads. Unless Facebook friends chat or message each other quite often, it can be hard to know what is really going on with a person. Most people on Facebook do not post about everything that is going on in their lives, especially the personal things, since everyone that is “friends” with a certain person on Facebook can see all that that person posts and does. Most people do not want to share the most personal parts of their lives with everyone, so they do not post about what is really going on in their lives. Thus, Facebook users are likely to be more disconnected from their friend’s “real” lives than “in person” friends are.
Although culture and the invention of Facebook have given new meaning to the word “friend,” it is imperative that people always remember what the true meaning of a friend really is. In a world such as today, where technology reigns and Facebook is a supreme form of communication, people can easily lose sight of this. However, the world cannot allow this to happen. “In person” friendships are a very important part of life. They are a more real and meaningful source of comfort and connection from one person to another. Without “real” friendships like these, people would be left with a more shallow and disconnected view of the world and what it means to be a “friend,” and they would never have the chance to experience the joy and richness that comes from having “true” friendships.
“Friend.” Def. 1a. Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. Print.
Kim, Junghyun, and Jong-Eun Roselyn Lee. “The Facebook Paths to Happiness: Effects of the Number of Facebook Friends and Self-Presentation on Subjective Well-Being.” CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking 14.6 (2011): 359-364. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 September 2011.