Speaking of Facebook:
Like many of you I've caught the Facebook craze. If you haven't you should seriously consider it. I'm on it for some period of time just about every day. I love seeing what pops up on the "news feed" - what folks are up to, any pictures that people have posted. I've started maybe a half-dozen groups on Facebook, some with pretty good response.
And I "friend" friends - either folks who have been on it a while or newbies. There's something about connecting with friends on Facebook that's refreshing. It's not like Myspace, where you get random friend requests or just sort of surf the Myspace wave and try to friend anyone you come upon. That always annoyed me, for some reason. There's an understanding on Facebook that you only "friend" people you actually know. And I like that.
Which brings me to my question. As of this blog entry I have 815 Facebook friends. 815! Seriously!? I mean, do I actually even know 815 people? I had never really thought about it, to be honest, until I did the "Facebook Friend wheel." It's a cool Facebook app that takes all your friends and puts them on the perimeter of a circle. Lines run inside the circle showing how your friends are connected to each other. Mine's to the right - if nothing else, it's pretty colorful. And a lot of names.
So a month or so ago I posted this question on my Facebook status: is it possible to have more Facebook friends than actual real friends? Responses covered the spectrum. Some said, yes, it is indeed possible. Others were more skeptical - why would you approve a friend you don't even know? One person got philosophical and wondered if maybe the answer lies in how one defines a "friend."
To a degree I guess they're all right. I have Facebook friends who I went to high school with and haven't communicated with since graduation. Are they "friends" in the classic sense of the word? Probably not. But they were once - and that's part of the cool thing about Facebook. It connects you not only with people you see every day, but people you've lost touch with. And perhaps all you do with those folks is catch up with some wall comments or messaging, and then respond to the random status change that comes on your news feed. It's not much, but it's more than it was before.
I actually like this. I've learned that one of my high school friends now stars on Broadway, while another was a missionary in Greece. A college fraternity brother is a fellow animal lover, and a seminary colleague shares my passion for good music. These are things that, without Facebook, I would've never known. In fact, I probably would've lost all contact with them.
To some this may seem silly; the whole "Facebook friends" thing reminding them of something along the lines of this cartoon:
Me, I'll just be thankful for all of my friends - whether they're on Facebook or not.
UPDATE: Four days after making this post, I accepted a friend request for someone I absolutely do not know. Never met him before. He's in his 50's and is a reporter/anchor for a radio station out in Portland, OR. His name? Steve Lindsley. Yep, down to the last letter. We're rare, I tell ya. Couldn't resist.