Well, I did it. I have now joined millions of other people and created a profile on Facebook. To check out my profile, just click on the facebook widget below. If you are not a member of Facebook yet, then I urge you to join the other 250,000 people who are joining up everyday and create a profile. So far, creating a profile is all I have done. My next step is to start inviting “friends” and to become a “friend” of other people.
Here is my problem. To me, the word “friend” holds a special meaning. It denotes a person who I feel close to; someone with whom I can share my failings and my problems, and who will help me out when I am in trouble. I use other words for all the other people I know in my life. I probably have between fifteen and twenty people in my life that fit my definition of a friend. The rest of the people I know fall into the “acquaintance” or “business associate” category. These are people who I like and share some aspects of my life with, but they are not the people I feel comfortable calling in the middle of the night with an emergency.
Facebook wants me to invite “friends” to join with me on Facebook. If I just invite my twenty friends, then I certainly won’t enlarge my sphere of connection very much. Facebook, of course, calls the people you invite to join your community a “friend” because “acquaintance” or “associate” sounds way to cold. Who wants to be asked to be an acquaintance? Therefore, I guess I need to rework my definition of friend so that I can get on board and start inviting friends to join me on Facebook.
Maybe I just need to rewind the clock a few years. Don’t we as parents tell our children that everyone they meet is a potential friend?
You see, my six and eight year old children have no problem inviting people to be their friends. They can be at a park and start playing with a child that they have never seen before. After playing with this new child for less then an hour, they will tell me that they have made a new friend. My kids are also making “friends” on the Internet through social network sites geared for children. Websites like Club Penguin, Webkinz, and Toon Town have mostly games and other interactive activities, but the kids are allowed to invite “friends” to join their list of friends on the site. My son, in particular, is always adding new friends (all of which go by some username so we have no clue who they are in real life).
So, as I rework my definition of friend and begin to invite people to be my “friend” on Facebook, I just have one question for you. Will you be my friend?