The Awkward “Friendships” on Facebook


I got into Facebook rather late.  I’m wondering whether it’s a generational thing.  I call people who were (or are) attending college four to five years after me (that is, while I was in law school) the “Facebook generation because they have distinctly different online habits than I do.  The Facebook generation don’t know the time before e-mail and the Internet; they grew up with a computer and instant access to everything.   To people who are older than I am, I probably appear to be in the same generation as they are, but as I’ve written before, I’m starting to feel old and one thing’s for sure:  those who are 4-5 years younger than me are not old.

I’m digressing here, because this post was not supposed to be a rehash of how I want to remain 18 forever.  Instead, I was hoping someone could shed light on the peculiarity I’m discovering about “friends” on facebook.

One of the nicest attributes of Facebook–or so I initially thought–was that I could get in touch with people from my past long ago.  I attended public grammar and middle school but went to a private high school, and I lost touch with most people from the pre-high school era.  I never particularly sought to get back in touch with these people, but Facebook provided an easy, passive way to become reacquainted.  You could search through people by high school and class, or even easier through the “People You May Know” feature.

And in this way, I’ve once again become “friends” with numerous people from times well back.  With many of these new buddies, I’d wanted to catch up and develop a (re)new friendship.

But apparently, there’s a very clear demarcation between a Facebook “friend” and real friend.  Most of the time, my Facebook message or AIM message has gone unheeded or responded to only once.

Quite frankly, it makes me sad.  I grew up with a lot of these people.  Over the years, I, like them, have met different people and made new friends, but that doesn’t lessen the emotional attachment to past  friendships waned.  I would like to become friends with these people again or for the first time.  There have been people that I weren’t close to the first time, either in high school or college, but became closer the second time our lives crossed paths.  Perhaps I’m a bit too sentimental, but I like meeting people and increasing the bonds of friendships.  It’s a shame that Facebook, where I thought I would have the most opportunity to do this, just appears to be a place where you can boast how many popular you are, rather than how many “friends” you have.

I’ve accepted the Facebook for what it is, and have increased my “friend” requests and confirmations to people I really didn’t know, care to know, or ever knew.  (A guy recently asked to be my friend because we happen to share a last name.  That’s just bizarre but I said yes).

At the same time, though, the significance I attach to the site has greatly decreased.  In essence, it’s been reduced to where I announce new blog postings.

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10 Responses to “The Awkward “Friendships” on Facebook”


  1. 1 miran February 6, 2009 at 11:27 am

    It is very confusing when a facebook “friend” is… nicer when posting onto my wall or sending me a message than in person.

    Anyway, you should continue writing that story. Are you working with an outline?

    • 2 joesas February 6, 2009 at 11:54 am

      Miran,

      Great to hear from you! Long time no hear! And I absolutely agree, it’s awkward when person is nicer in impersonal contact than personal ones. I think that’s a sign that person doesn’t want to be nice.

      I am just writing this story as it comes to my head. Any suggestions on the way I write, etc? Do you like it so far?

  2. 3 miran February 6, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    I definitely like the way you end this chapter. You leave us hanging… ;-) Now I want to read more about this mysterious past in Fair Lawn. (Nice town! I took my GRE there.)

    • 4 joesas February 9, 2009 at 9:22 am

      I actually do have thoughts about his “past” in Fair Lawn, but hopefully, the story will end up being more than that!

      Stay tuned… Section two well on its way.

      • 5 joesas February 13, 2009 at 5:08 pm

        Diana,

        Thanks for reading and commenting, with positive feedback, no less! It’s much appreciated.

        When I spoke of superficial friends, I obviously did not include you, although that did not come out as obvious as it should have. LOL. Anyone who leaves nice messages on my wall is a real friend of mine, far and beyond facebook.

        We should perhaps see each other in person one of these days so that you will never be miscategorized ever again???

  3. 6 diana February 13, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    i know what you’re saying, but you just have to accept it for what it is. i guess i think it’s better to keep up with people a little bit (what you consider superficially) than not at all. and i kinda like the fact that “real” friendships are still being fostered primarily in person and not just over the internets.

    so yeah, that’s just my 2 cents. and even if you think our relationship is superficial, i still like having you as a facebook friend! ps. like the blog too, even if i don’t comment on every post. :-)

  4. 7 diana February 19, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    if you (or your sister) are ever in chicago, let me know! would love a blast from the past get together!

  5. 8 joesas February 19, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    That’s right! You’re in Chicago…

    If I’m ever in town (likely on business), I will definitely give you a call!

  6. 9 buddha March 12, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Come on Joe, you know you love those old school pics from camp. Love the blog btw, I’ve been reading it on occasion for a few months now.

    • 10 joesas March 12, 2009 at 3:36 pm

      Buddha,

      Long time no hear! How’s it goin’?

      I gotta say that that pic from camp brought back fond memories. Those were the times, you know? Didn’t have to think about work and coworkers and relationships and futures and shit like that. You just had to think about having fun.

      It’s great to hear from ya, and I’m thrilled that you’re an (occasional) reader!

      Don’t be a stranger to the blog (or elsewhere)!


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