Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Social Networking: Changing What it Means to be Friends

A person’s friendships used to be judged based on human interaction (i.e. how much time do they spend together?); now, with the rise of social networking, a relationship, whether it is romantic or simply platonic, is judged based on how the relationship appears on social networking sites. For instance, we assume that individuals, who have been tagged in multiple photos together, as well as ‘checked in’ at multiple places together, are close friends. It is these social networking sites that generate other’s ideas about a person and their relationship with others.
In Tammy Nelson’s article, “Is ‘Unfollowing’ someone on Twitter the new Dis?” she explores how social networking affects the way in which we build and maintain relationships – both romantic and platonic. When we break up, our relationship status goes from “in a relationship” to “single;” it comes up on people’s newsfeed and everyone who is friends with you and your ex knows your relationship is over. With regards to platonic relationships, when you are upset with a friend, you can ‘de-friend’ them on social networking sites. However, in real life, there is no way for you to have a ‘de-friend’ button. As Nelson stated, we would never walk up to a person and say “I am de-friending you” instead we fade them out of our lives.  In this new outlet, we are able to let go of our anger in a passive-aggressive fashion.
If unfollowing someone (like Rihanna did with Chris Brown) is the new dis, how are our social interactions, in the real world, changing?  After we ‘de-friend’ someone, what happens when you run into them in person? Do you act friendly or non-chalant? In my opinion, I understand that de-friending individuals is common. Usually, I ‘de-friend’ people who I’ve only met a couple of times; however, even if I get in a fight with one of my friends, I wouldn’t ‘de-friend’ them. I think dealing with a problem via the internet is very passive–aggressive and doesn’t solve anything. And even though, we live in an era that is consumed with living one’s life through the internet, this is not a healthy way of dealing with problems. It is important for people, especially kids of my generation, to realize that the internet shouldn’t be the most important part of their life – either should social networking; instead, real life social interaction needs to be more important than their online counterparts. 


  1. This is interesting as I remember reading an article that expands on this idea on the effect of our online personas has on others. I believe it had to do with the pictures that we post on Facebook, and how we frame ourselves to look like we're happy all the time causing others to think that they're not as social as their peers.

    What I think a lot of our generation fails to recognize is that Facebook is not as truly representative of our lives as it may seem. It is still a medium that requires selective framing of what to post and what not to post, and since it deals with our personal lives we are more likely to push images that we want to portray (such as partying and whatnot). Because we grow up recognizing text and other published material as solid information, we tend to take what we see at face value, especially when we don't see the person all the time.

    As with this article, I know plenty of people who interact solely over the Internet (via Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr) who don't even say hi to each other in person because they're not sure how comfortable they really are face-to-face.

  2. Kudos for blogging about this issue. I always wondered why many people on facebook tried to portray a certain image. Countless of times I have heard someone say, "gotta post this picture on facebook." I always view people as being somewhat fake, for doing so.

    One interesting comment made on the blog was that, “Is ‘Unfollowing’ someone on Twitter the new Dis?” I never understood that. Now, I feel compelled to continue following the people I have been following on twitter thus far. :(

  3. I tend to see unfriending as a bigger insult than unfollowing, since the latter is often a matter of information overload, but I think this is an important issue for digital journalists who are marketing their likeability as people and their trustworthiness personally rather than just their stature as journalists.