A Few Thoughts on Facebook Friends (and some polls)

The average Facebook user today has 130 friends. But how many of them would that average user really call a friend? And by friend, I mean just “friend”. I don’t mean anything like “true friend”, “real friend”, “good friend” or the like. Just someone you’d call a friend.

That would be hard to get a consistent answer since different people have different standards for who they call a friend. For some, only the truest of friends get called a friend. For others, anyone who might have followed them on Twitter, or vice-versa, counts as a friend. What we need is some sort of standard definition for “friend” to move this forward.

Aristotle

Interestingly, a good definition for “friend” can be found over 2300 years ago courtesy of the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC).

According to Aristotle, there are three types of friends, in increasing level of strength and sincerity:

  1. Contacts or those based on usefulness or utility, sometimes known as acquaintance;
  2. Drinking buddies or those based on pleasure (to use the word conservatively); and
  3. Good friends or those based on shared virtues.

If we accept all three of these categories to be friends, as Aristotle called them three types of friends, we then have a pretty broad definition of friend, but one which I would be happy to accept. Question then is if these definitions are still broad enough to cover how most people decide whether or not to add others as friends on Facebook. That would take a lot of resources to not only survey but to also verify. I doubt the folks at Facebook would even be able to do the latter conclusively, though I think they have a pretty good idea along the same lines I do.

From what I have seen and read of people and how they use Facebook, as well as who uses them and how, I would argue that a lot of people’s Facebook friends fall outside of Aristotle’s definition. So one would either need to expand Aristotle’s definition of friends to include these slightest of Facebook friends, or these slightest of Facebook friends aren’t really friends.

At first glance, Aristotle’s contacts category seems broad enough. After all, these slightest of Facebook friends are often people a user would have met only once, if that. They probably serve only as potential usefulness, never mind true utility. That is, they get added cause one never knows when they might be useful, not that they are likely to be useful in some way. Many people have Facebook friends just for the sake of upping their count and feel more people are paying attention to their Facebook activity. Others to avoid some situational awkwardness, like being Facebook friends with someone’s partner just because s/he is the jealous type who wants to keep an eye on their partner’s Facebook activities, when one doesn’t really give a damn if they exist. However, this adding of potentially useful friends can only happen to a point before users would not be able to remember people on their Facebook friends list. That is, if you asked them if so and so were on their Facebook friends list, they wouldn’t be able to tell you with certainty. Or if you asked them the name of certain people who are actually on their Facebook friends list, they wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about them at all, including how they got on that list in the first place.

I don’t know what the approximate average number of Facebook friends one would need to have before they would start forgetting everything about someone on that list, but I can tell you the situation would be true for some Facebook whales . That’s the term Facebook has for Facebook users with over 1,000 friends. Seriously, one thousand people is a lot of people to remember names and something about them. But if you don’t buy that people can remember details about a thousand mostly generic people, perhaps you’d believe the situation of not being able to remember anything about some Facebook friends would be true for those who have reached Facebook’s friends list limit of 5,000. Yes, there are those, too.

Poor Aristotle must be turning over in his grave at what some people constitute as friends today, though I’m sure he wouldn’t expand his definition of friends but rather state those slightest of Facebook friends are truly friends at all.

So after all that, maybe you’d like to weigh in with some opinions with a comments, like how you’d define a friend or why you keep Facebook friends you might not remember anything about, etc. Or maybe you’d just like to take some polls on Facebook friendship below (or see how others responded). The sample from this blog will be skewed because a lot of people come here for Facebook related activities so they tend to be avid Facebook users, but I’m just curious to see.

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Other Facebook user facts:

  1. Canada has the 4th highest Facebook user rate per capita as of June 2010 with 47.9% of Canadians having a profile. This trails only Iceland (59.6%), Norway and Hong Kong, in that order.
  2. Canada has the highest Facebook user rate per capita among nations with 10 million citizens or more.
  3. There are 16 million Facebook users in Canada.
  4. Quit Facebook Day is May 31. A measly 30,000 quit worldwide of about 465 million users. Most “I Hate Facebook” type groups and pages are actually hosted on Facebook.
  5. Canada signed up 912,000 new users in May 2010 alone.

Other Facebook issue posts on my site:

The Prejudices and Privacy Perils of Facebook Quizzes

How to Get Rid of Your Facebook Past

25 Things For Facebook You Can’t Steal My ID With

25 Things You Gave on Facebook to Help Get Your ID Stolen

Una Guía de Netiqueta Práctica para Facebook

 

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Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.6

Blown the Podium Campaign Introduced by Canadian Olympic Committee

Monday, Feb 22 2009

The new BLOWN the Podium Logo

With seven days of Olympics competition remaining, the Canadian Olympic Committee has introduced the Blown the Podium campaign after conceding Canada will not achieve its Own the Podium campaign goal of finishing first overall in the medal count.

COC CEO Chris Rudge said “we are going to be short of our goal” at the team’s daily news briefing.

Canada entered Monday with9 medals (4G-4S-1B), tied for fourth with South Korea. It is far behind the United States at 24. Germany was second with 17, followed by Norway with 12. Canada is even behind its pace in Turin 4 years ago when it had 13 medals at this point in the games. Canada finished with 24 medals then, third overall and its best winter Olympics showing ever.

Considering the US has 24 medals now, and it is uncatchable, Canada is not going to even reach its Turin performance!

So much for the ambitious Own the Podium campaign introduced 5 years ago.

Introduced on a “feeling” that the Canadian team needed to aim high and capture the imagination of the Canadian public, Canada showed a great start with the best winter Olympics showing in 2006 just a year after the campaign started. This was with the men’s hockey debacle. However, whatever projection data the COC had in hand prior to this Olympics, it wasn’t accurate. Its star athletes have hardly stepped up so far, while a few it overlooked for sponsorship and media attention stepped up big time.

Regardless, this program which saw $117 million invested in athletes, $66 million of which was taxpayer dollars, will fail miserably in the outcome. It has even caused frustration and complaints among some. Long track speed skater Denny Morrison, who wasn’t even close in his 2 potential medals, stated his training went downhill after his rival and training partner Shani Davis was banned from training with him in Calgary due to Own the Podium restrictions (CTV, Feb 20). It was a sort of “don’t train in Canada” version of “buy Canadian”. Whether you believe Denny or not, losing a training partner that pushes you to your best can’t be good for your training. Furthermore, Shani Davis agreed. Davis met Morrison in Calgary just before Turin and made Morrison rise in the world rankings quickly.

Norwegian skier Aksel Svindal also said the program did Canadians a disservice by preventing him from training with the Canadian alpine team on the Whistler slopes, as he’d done in the past. Aksel won gold in the super G, and claimed to be faster in the middle of the course than any competitor, something he said the Canadian skiers could have benefited in training from his knowledge.

Ouch!

The Blown the Podium campaign will have the French name of Pas Nous le Podium, correctly translated or not because at this point, the COC doesn’t care much. About the campaign, of course, not about the French language. Even on such a meaningless thing, to leave the French out of it would be upset the French community who has already whined incessantly about how there wasn’t enough French in the opening ceremony! (CTV Feb 15)

I hope they complained in French because it would have been hypocritical for them to do so in English. The way I understood it, there was a greater percentage of French in the ceremonies than French Canadians of the French population, and that makes me plenty satisfied they got their fair share.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 10.6

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