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Monday, September 27, 2010

Who is a friend?

Have you read The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell? He talks of people called "Connectors"  from Wikipedia's extraction from his book "Connectors" are:

Connectors are the people who "link us up with the world ... people with a special gift for bringing the world together."[6] They are "a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack [... for] making friends and acquaintances". [7] He characterizes these individuals as having social networks of over one hundred people.

Facebook and other social networking tools do this like crazy.  I have over 1500 "friends".  But, we know these are really not ALL my friends by the true definition of the word:

"A person you know well and regard with affection and trust"

Most of these 1500+ are acquaintances - some I have met, some who know people I know.  We may be interested in the same things.  We may just want to be watching what each other are doing (competitors). Some of these relationships roll off into real friendships - after all, we do have things in common, we do things in the same circles and know the same people.

"Friend" is used too loosely

I am finding though that even in real life now, we use the term "friend" too loosely. Someone we met and spent 3 days with is now one of our "best friends".  Someone we had dinner with is now named a friend in general conversation, someone we don't get along with anymore is called a friend just because it's easier than saying anything else.

I was asked last night if I was requiring someone who I barely know to make a decision between me and someone else because I didn't care for them.  I thought - "heck no, I just don't want to hang with either one of you" mostly because I learned something about this acquaintance that made them not fall into the "friend" category.  There was no drama for me, it was simple - they were not anything more than someone I was getting to know - and now I knew enough.

What is with social networking that we need to know everything about everyone - from when they are getting a cup of coffee to when they are having cramps to when they go to bed and why does this knowledge about each other make us feel that we are friends? This media has made us more and more A.D.D.  It has made us more and more in need of instant gratification. Someone who texts you at 2am just has no boundaries, they are not necessarily close and someone you can trust.

I think we just know more about each other.  Which is cool in a way - we are accountable again in an arena where we could be anonymous, and let our morals and guard down.  Maybe now, we need to mind our p's an q's and be a little more private in a very public setting.

Further Wikipedia says that Gladwell uses the following examples to describe a "Connector":

"The midnight ride of Paul Revere, Milgram's experiments in the small world problem, the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" trivia game, Dallas businessman Roger Horchow, and Chicagoan Lois Weisberg, a person who understands the concept of the weak tie. Gladwell attributes the social success of Connectors to "their ability to span many different worlds [... as] a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy."

This is not someone that just accumulates friends. This is someone that brings people together. Someone that people want to know and want to be known to know...   I think we are all becoming Connectors without the skill sets behind it - it's definitely a skill... what do you think? What skills are needed? Do you know connectors or people wielding the sword improperly?

I really wish that we could find a different word to use than "friend" in these social networking tools - it's misused or overused and is making it hard to communicate :-)

I have great  clients, customers, vendors, and acquaintance as well as fun strangers following my every move... but only a few friends - and I adore them!

1 comment:

  1. I often say my "network" - It works better to explain the people that I have come in contact with over my lifespan.