Number of Facebook 'Friends' Does Not Matter
Let’s face it, if you do not have a facebook account, you are practically a loser; either that or you do not live in the twenty-first century. Facebook, as if you do not know, is one of the largest social networking websites in which “members…craft an image of themselves as they would like to be seen” by others (Reardon). You create a profile in which you share your favorite books, movies, music, quotes and any additional information you want with the world, all complete with your personal picture, birthday, relationship status, religious views and political affiliation. After you set up all that jazz, upload some pictures into a virtual photo album, add the very popular bumper sticker application and you are ready to use the search bar to find and connect with friends as well as Facebook “stalk” or “creep” complete strangers. This is why I think Matthew Hutson’s Blog “What’s the Optimal Number of Facebook Friends?” is somewhat unnecessary and inaccurate. The number of friends you do or do not have does not matter. As stated by Patrick T. Reardon, “on Facebook, a ‘friend’ is not necessarily someone you know well.”
By definition, ‘friend’ means “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard” (dictionary.com). In my opinion, the Facebook definition of ‘friend’ can range anywhere from the dictionary-definition to something like “a person you once stood behind at the drinking fountain in the science wing in high school” or “your brother’s girlfriend’s best friend’s older cousin that you saw a picture of and thought was really cute.” Facebook is so impersonal and so creepy in the sense that you do not really even have to know or physically meet someone in real life to be ‘friends’ with them online, and nine times out of ten, that is the case. I personally have 836 Facebook ‘friends’ but I would only consider a fourth of them dictionary-definition friends. The other three-fourths are acquaintances or friends of friends that I have met at one point in time. I am not personally one to request friendship because someone looked cute in their profile picture, but hey, it is not uncommon.
Young Facebookers often think if “they even slightly recognize a name or face, they should be your ‘friend’” (McGinley). People from the older generation, however, are very selective when it comes to who they accept and request as friends. While some people limit their facebook posse to co-workers, neighbors and family friends, others will not even go that far. In an Blog titled “Deciding Whom to Friend on Facebook” by Gina Chen, she says that her husband “refuses to ‘friend’ anyone on Facebook except people he cannot really see frequently in real life… he ‘friends’ his childhood friends, who live in California, but not the people he sees everyday at work.” She goes on to say that her husband would not even add her because he was afraid of the potential friend requests he would receive from others because of it. So, while some ‘friend’ everyone under the sun, others like to stay in the dark and not ‘friend’ anyone.
While I know Matthew Hutson’s Blog “What’s the Optimal Number of Facebook Friends,” links social connectivity to genetics and that is what my position is supposed to be on, I find it far more worth while to argue over the statement “you are either cool and have 600 Facebook friends, or you are worthless and only have 40.” I may now have 837 ‘friends’ -- yes, in the last hour of writing this I became even more of a social slut in Hutson’s terms, but that does not make me any cooler than someone with 37. The idea that people “with too many ‘friends’ may appear to be focusing too much on Facebook, friend requesting out of desperation rather than popularity… trying to make connections in a computer-mediated environment where they feel more comfortable than in face-to-face social interaction” is not necessarily true, either (Hutson). People with ‘too many friends,’ like myself, may have just met a lot of different people over time and have a lot of acquaintances. On the other hand, people with ‘too few friends,’ like Gina Chen’s husband, may only want to connect with certain people and not get caught up in the highly addicting website. There are no specific rules for Facebook regarding how many ‘friends’ you are allowed to have or how well you have to know someone to add them. If you want to have 600+ ‘friends’ and be a social slut, good for you; if you want to have fewer than 40 and be worthless, even better. It is your profile to do with what you want so do just that. No one needs a stranger deciding for all of society what the optimal number of friends needed to be ‘cool’ in cyberspace is.
Chen, Gina. "Deciding Whom to Friend on Facebook." Weblog post. The Post Standard. 16 Feb. 2009. 16 Feb. 2009
Dictionary. com An Ask.com Service. 16 Feb. 2009
Hutson, Matthew. "What's the Optimal Number of Facebook Friends?" Weblog post. Psychology Today Blogs. 28
Jan. 2009. 16 Feb. 2009
McGinley, Mike. "Do You Facebook?" Weblog post. The Weekender. 16 Feb. 2009. 16 Feb. 2009
Reardon, Patrick T. "Facebook's "25 Things" are life stories in miniature." Chicago Tribune 16 Feb. 2009. 16 Feb.