Can You Really Count on FB Friends?

So you have a lot of friends on Facebook. More than anyone else. And you just happen to be in the market to buy a laptop. Would you entrust them to make the decision? After all, isn’t that what friends are for? And social media is all about the circle of trust, right? In fact, what happens if you just happened to log on and find that a friend has ‘liked’ a particular brand? Yes, your friend, you pal from your college days fifteen years ago, ‘likes’ this particular brand. Would it instantly conjure up a sense of loyalty or trust or gratitude which would cause you to buy a laptop of that brand? I think not.

Facebook has proven to be a red herring in many ways. It promised so much, but has ended up delivering not even a fraction of that. And that has perhaps got to do with the ‘social’ aspect of this platform. People are interested in connecting with others, in sharing memories, in posting comments, in ‘liking’ pages. But an element of casualness laces this entire paradigm that rarely enters the domain of serious consideration. One of the reasons is the sheer volume of information which has caused an attitude shift in the importance one attributes to the posted items. It is okay to miss out. The other reason is that the connections are weak at best.

There is no doubt that one of the great things about Facebook is the ability to connect with people from the past. But these connections are simply a way to keep in touch. They hardly recreate the bonds that once existed. At some level, everyone knows that. Facebook, in many ways, is also a popularity contest. The one who has the most friends wins. It is also about reciprocity. If you ‘like’ other people’s pages, there is a natural obligation for them to like back. Hence, there is very little time to form strong, lasting associations that one has in real life. And think about it. Is it even possible to form strong bonds when one has ‘friends’ which number in hundreds if not thousands?

Facebook does allow people to create their own little cyber worlds and build a shrine to their own lives, share it with others and generally feel good. However, it does this in a loose manner. It is more about propagating information that we like, expressing ourselves if you must. But it cannot replicate the depth of the relationships that exist in real life. Ultimately, you can only count your Facebook ‘friends’, not count on them!

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