One concern though: the nature of ‘friendship’.
I’m not sure what the etiquette is regarding friendship requests, but one thing is certain: you have to decide early on on some sort of policy about who you are going to be ‘friends’ with. Taking the whole thing fairly lightly, I’m pretty free-for-all. There are lots of people on my list who aren’t actually my friends, in the traditional sense. I’ve never met them. I probably never will. We have connected through this site… and that’s about it.
My concern then is really how sites like Facebook might profoundly affect the nature of friendship. Encarta defines a ‘friend’ as
1. somebody who has a close personal relationship of mutual affection and trust with another
2. somebody who has a casual relationship with another, for example, a business acquaintance
3. somebody who is not an enemy
4. somebody who defends or supports a cause, group, or principle
5. somebody who supports a charity or institution by donating time or money
On Facebook we have a complete mix of these definitions. Some people I have close personal relationships with. Some are just ‘not enemies’. Others are involved in mutual causes.
In an increasingly fragmented and atomized world, I wonder if we need a new word for my ‘number 1s’. Something more than ‘friendship’. I wonder if Facebook slightly cheapens all of these definitions, making it so easy to ‘be friends’, when true friendship is more difficult.
And I wonder too whether this impacts our other relationships, and, in turn draws more towards being a ‘buddy of Christ’, rather than part of a body, with all the blood and guts that entails.