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Having fun, writing about the stuff I like

How well do you know your Facebook friends?

Oscar Foulkes September 5, 2013 Social media No comments
At an event this week, I noticed someone across the room whom I thought looked like one of my Facebook friends. Apologies for defining the relationship, but it is relevant, as you’ll soon see.

I could have said that I saw a person across the room whom I had not seen for close on 12 years. In that case, my faltering memory, combined with the small changes resulting from bodies getting older, would have been understandable. But this is someone I feel I know well enough to share not necessarily intimate, but certainly personal information or images. I’ve seen her cat pictures (true story), as well as the other snippets she has chosen to share with her Facebook friends (although clearly no selfies!).

My point is this: we are ‘friends’ with a bunch of people, about those who choose to post to Facebook we may know a great deal, but would we recognise them if we bumped into them unexpectedly?

I would classify myself as a cautious Facebook friender, but even I have over 300 ‘friends’. With very few exceptions – which I’ll get to in a moment – they are all people I’ve met, although not necessarily people with whom I may socialise. And, there are many people I see all the time – real life friends – who aren’t Facebook friends, but it would just seem weird at this stage of our friendship to send a friend request.

Right, people I haven’t met. The main one goes back to the early days of Facebook, when automatic friend requests were sent to entire email address books. One of these is so entertaining that I have never got around to unfriending her. And, this, I think is the crux. People who are actively posting interesting or entertaining content – the ones who contribute – are harder to let go of.

Facebook enables us to keep in touch with people on the other side of the globe, as I do with my New York friends Will and William, who are not only life partners, but also share a birthday (more a case of Will.we.are than Seeing their Facebook updates isn’t the same as going for yum cha on a Sunday morning, but it’s better than being completely absent.

Spare a thought for Millennials, who not only have many more Facebook friends than their parents, but who made those friends when everyone was really youthful. Imagine a chance meeting of a few of those in 30 years’ time!

Guiding businesses in their social media strategies is part of what I do. I’d say that individuals need that kind of strategy as well. Choosing not to be part is a strategy, but once we get into the space we need to make choices about how we are going to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

As powerful as these tools may be, there is nothing that beats face-to-face contact. If you can remember what your friends look like!

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