Rohit's Realm

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December 28, 2005

Facebook Friends

Nearly two years ago, at what might, in retrospect, be seen as a golden age of cynicism and anger in the prolific history of, I ventured that all interpersonal relationships could be defined on the basis of convenience, exploitation, and self-aggrandizement. Well, with the advent of social networks such as Facebook and My Space, I realized today that my trusty pyramid of yesteryear could not be veritably applied to the digital representations of relationships on social networks. Thus, for this entry I decided to prepare a more comprehensive analysis of the purported friendships tauted on social networks.

Facebook Friends

First of all, let me just say that I have nothing against the Facebook; in fact, it is the only such social network where I continue to maintain a presence. However, it is my opinion that often times, the notion of friendship is severely abused by social networking systems—an opinion that was only strengthened today when I logged in to investigate a recent entry on my wall and realized that of the sample of my friends that showed up on my profile page, I didn't know a single person. Not just didn't know; didn't even recognize. What? Wow. I wouldn't know this person on the street but apparently, we're friends according to the Facebook.

This got me thinking about a neat feature that could be added to the Facebook to supplement the how do we know each other field that recently appeared. Ready for it? Are you sure? OK, how about taking that relationship status thing where you can say you are in an open relationship with Satan (or something) and expand that to every single supposed friend of yours. That way, everyone could be exactly clear on where they stand with one another, and moreover, the rampant pretense, posturing, and posing that is currently commonplace would be decreased, if ever so slightly. While we're on the topic, I have some suggestions on relationship statuses (shocking, right?).

After doing some cursory analysis of my 290 odd friends on the Facebook, I came to the following conclusions:

  • I have only seen/talked to about 4% of my friends in the last month.
  • More than 50% of my friends are really acquaintances, and of that, I actually actively dislike at least half.
  • I honestly do not know or recognize a good 20% of my supposed friends. Where we met and how we know each other is quite the mystery. I'm sure most, if not all, were accepted because either they (1) were attractive or (2) had attractive friends.
  • Quite a few of my female friends are married, generally to other women, or men who, suspiciously, are interested in other men. Hmm.
  • Several of my friends claim to be in relationships with people I know for a fact they have broken up with, often quite bitterly.

Based on the above analysis, I came up with the chart below of types of relationships that could be used to resolve this rather salient issue:

Relationship Type Ostensible Meaning Reality
Married Dearly beloved, till death do us part. (Straight Women, Gay Men) Best girlfriend / gay guy friend. (Straight Men) Not allowed.
In a Relationship Romantic dinners, flowers, candy, holding hands (Read: sappy bullshit) You dated for two weeks, broke up, but neither party wants to be the one to drop the other on Facebook know, because it was mutual, right?
Good Friends Someone who understands you Someone you don't want to sleep with, or have no hope of sleeping with, but whose presence you can still tolerate.
Friends (with Benefits) Booty Call Booty Call
Acquaintance Friend of a friend who you meet at social events. Someone you added to appear popular.
Head Nods Acquaintance Someone you added only because they might have hot friends to stalk on those oh-so-lonely Saturday nights, home alone...wait, what?
Unknowns A dear friend An unknown person you accepted only because you didn't want to be an asshole about it.

Now, before you sigh about how I'm such a cynical bastard and mumble under your breath about how I'll change when I meet the right one as you always do, dear reader, let me point out some benefits of my proposed plan. In our modern world wrought with confusing and inconsistent personal relationships, wouldn't it be easier if there was a single, unified way to define exactly what someone means to you without all the bullshit, drama, and rigmarole? Well, obviously! And with my plan, you could!

For example, say, completely hypothetically, of course, that you meet a friend of a friend in Las Vegas while there for a (non-BCS) bowl game for your alma mater. Now, say, still hypothetically, that in the course of the festivities and in the midst of your collective inebriation, that the proverbial sparks (if you know what I mean) fly, and a number (among other things) is exchanged. With my proposed plan, any potential awkwardness could easily be resolved by simply logging on to Facebook the next day, adding your new acquaintance as a friend, and then classifying what she means to you, or, put another way, what you want out of the relationship—in our hypothetical, Friends (with Benefits). Now wouldn't that be easier, then, say, getting daily phone calls from your new acquaintance about hanging out? I think so!

Admittedly, my plan is neither the most tactful nor the most sensitive means of addressing salient issues in an interpersonal relationship, but it sure is a hell of a lot more clear, and honestly, I'd take clarity over sensitivity any day of the week. Wouldn't you?


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