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Who wants to be my Facebook Friend?

I have been involved with a few online communities in my brushes with the internet. My first experience was with an online game. This was similar, although less advanced, to the community of World of Warcraft or Everquest for those of you familiar with them. It was fun for me to belong to a social group that was outside of my everyday reality. However, as time progressed the internet evolved and so did my online habits. I created a web page and visited others through the Angelfire community and then finally joined Facebook.

Facebook is by far the most active I have been in an online community. From my personal perspective Facebook made the right move by targeting individuals in the right market. Boyd touched on how members of online communities at first did not know how to respond to adding friends or what to share. Facebook targeted a culture that wants to become socially open and meet people, college kids.

There was a high level of comfort surrounding facebook because at first, it was only college students that could even be on the network or view your profile. This encouraged individuals to be open and honest about themselves. In a school this large it is also necessary to remember the name of the kid in class next to you. Facebook helps a lot with that.

I was interested in Boyd's issue with the classification of friends and the "Top 8". This part of the article really touched base with me because it addresses the issue of friendship. I look at a lot of online profiles including my own and see many people with over 300 or even 1,000 friends. Are they really all your friends? When do you classify that person as acceptable to join your list of friends. For most people who use facebook I assume most of the people on their friends list aren't even involved in their life anymore. Furthermore, some people you might not even know. I laughed at the "Top 8" issue because you can see the social pressure and implications that idea has before it is even implemented. It does bring to light though the hierarchy of friendship. I know that if I had to list all of my friends I wouldn't even come close to everyone on my Facebook "friends" list.

Comments

I liked your remark that Facebook made a good choice in which market to gear itself towards because college kids are defintely ones who would use such a site. I wonder if facebook would be the first site mentioned (instead of myspace) when talking about social networking sites if they didn't choose the specific demographic of people to work with. I agree with your comments on people with 300 or 1000 friends, as well. It was my girlfriends birthday this past weekend and she got some messages on facebook from people she didn't even know (along with birthday wishes from girls on her floor that saw it on facebook). Although the sites allow a person to keep in touch or track down old friends, a lot of the relationships built on the sites seem much more superficial than real life relationships.

I agree that Facebook is a whole lot easier to use. It's easy to understand and especially locating others. Myspace on the other hand, can be quite difficult searching for old friends and much harder to follow and work with.

I was sort of geared toward Facebook at first for pretty much the same reasons you said, because it seemed like a good way to network with other people at the U of M through an online community meant for people like me. Now that it has opened up to everyone though, it's kind of lost some of that appeal. I still use it because most of my friends on there I also know or am connected to in real life, but I still don't have any real desire to join something like Myspace.