Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Social Network Friends

I can devide my friends into many different groups: based on how long we know each other, the frequency in which we see each other or the corresponding level of interests. More and more, however, the devision that seems to be emerging is that of the social media. Relatively few of my friends are not a member of one of the social network sites. The few who distant themselves from these things, often bring it as a statement: "I do not participate in that sort of nonsense" or "I'm way too busy for those things". It's all fine by me, I don't really care. But I have been noticing a few things.

First, the people who are supposedly rebelling against "those things", are often people who do not work at the computer. Often they teach in high schools, are traveling artists or doctors who work their way through patients charts. When you work at least eight hours a day behind a computer, doing work that mainly get generated by receiving and processing emails, it's lovely to get distracted by status updates from friends. Of course, it's another matter how ethical it is to check your private email on your bosses time, but it's relatively easy to open Facebook, Twitter or whatever site in another tab in your browser.

Secondly, and I actually think this is more important, brings Facebook (in my case) a whole lot of pleasure. In fact, I believe it has enriched my life. Of course I'm not interested in every single status update of each of the people I've befriended online. (It's a social experiment in itself to examine the criteria people use whether or not to befriend others). I also suspect that not all of those people are eagerly waiting for the things I decide to share.
But I think it's a very easy and nice way to be aware of the things that are going on in my friends lives. People who I cannot all meet with on a very regular basis. By reading their updates and watching their photo's, I keep up with their lives a little and it makes it much more easier to catch up during our half-yearly talks. Of course it doesn't replace the real conversations in the bar, but it is an addition to our friendship.
Also, over the last few years, I have enjoyed all the little gifts I got from my Facebook Friends: the funny, touching and beautiful films, links, websites and thoughts they have posted and on which I decided to click. I discovered new bands, inspiring websites and had to laugh out loud a lot over funny or bizarre comments, discussions and links.

On other words: I think Facebook is a gift. And I don't mind spending time on that.