Monday, December 10, 2012

Facebook and friendship inflation

People who spend a lot of time on Facebook often succumb to what I call “friendship inflation.”

You have no doubt seen Facebook pages that list something like eight hundred or a thousand Facebook friends.

This is friendship inflation. Facebook gives you a distorted view of your actual inventory of real relationships. And this can happen on a smaller scale, as well. You don’t have to have 1,826 Facebook friends to be in a state of Facebook-induced friendship inflation.

Some of my Facebook friends (I have about 150 in total) include people I haven't seen since grade school. For me, grade school was more than 30 years ago.

These people show up on my Facebook feed; but I really don't have any sort of a "relationship" with them. We never talk; we never hang out. And why should we? We haven’t seen each other since the eighth grade, after all.

Facebook “friends” are a bit like the people you see on television.

Facebook friends require little in the way of time, compromise, and "getting yourself out there in the world." You can acquire them with a few mouse clicks. But Facebook friends don't provide you with much, either. 

This is friendship inflation. When something is subject to inflation, it is easier to acquire, but it is also less valuable.

Friendship inflation is another peril of our obsession with online social media. You would be better off to spend less time making Facebook friends, and more time making real-life friends.