We all have them, Facebook friends – but is this friendship? I keep reading articles, books and even cute sayings on my daily calendar about how Facebook friends are not really friends. I’m not sure what definition we all use to define friend or friendship but I started to be bothered by all this negativity around Facebook friends and friendship. Merriam-Webster defines friend as a person you like and enjoy being with and a person who helps support someone or something. Based on this definition I think that some of my Facebook friends would qualify as real friends. Why? For one thing, I enjoy communicating with them – does that qualify as “being with them”? For me, it does.
Don’t get me wrong. I am in no way suggesting that anything can replace actual physical time with true friends. That connection that happens even when you haven’t been together for a long time. Talking on the phone certainly has it’s advantages over communicating on Facebook but does that make Facebook communication irrelevant and not real friendship? I don’t think that’s the case. I have many Facebook friends that I have never personally met and yet we have been communicating with each other for several years now. We share support, congratulations and at times, condolences. We motivate and make each other laugh through our Facebook posts.
I also have “real” friends that I do not get to see very often but we keep each other apprised of our lives via our Facebook posts and pictures. Then when we do talk and/or get together in person, we don’t spend all the time getting caught up – we just pick up as if we’ve been in touch all along. That has advantages. You are never out of someone’s life even when you are thanks to Facebook updates.
I hope we start to think about friends and friendship in a new light. Merriam-Webster’s definition of friendship seems to coincide with what happens among many Facebook friends…a friendly feeling or attitude – kindness or help given to someone. It doesn’t say anything about that kindness or help being given in person. I love getting all those happy birthday wishes on my birthday.
We reach out on Facebook to expand our connections in an ever smaller world. I don’t think we should feel bad that we connect with friends that we have never met or that we keep in touch with existing friends on Facebook. Can’t the positive input, energy and support of many help us when we reach out? Don’t you feel good when you can write an uplifting comment to someone? I do and yes, I feel good when they “like” my comment but even if it goes unliked, I know I may have helped lighten someone’s load just by being friends on Facebook.