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Preview: Comments on: Facebook will increase your network, but not your friends

Comments on: Facebook will increase your network, but not your friends



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By: Manisha Shahane

Thu, 13 Sep 2007 17:07:12 +0000

Both MySpace and Facebook - and the internet/email in general - provide ways to reconnect people with friends and colleagues with whom you've lost touch - I don't think Readers' study disputes that. He appears to be addressing the ability of these social networking sites to help individuals develop new friends and/or maintain meaningful relationships. My post addresses the issue of physical contact. Have we forgotten the long lost days of pen pals? Indeed the forging of strong and lasting bonds between people who would otherwise be strangers is helped by physical contact, but I do think it is possible to develop friendships through regular letter writing and this may be the case for some online friendships that later result in phone conversations and/or meeting in person. Or some people may never have the chance to meet, yet they will persist in writing regularly to each other for an extended period of time that may serve to create a friendship. Both Facebook and MySpace have the potential to make introductions to a future "real life" friend, but the onus is on each party to communicate regularly, personally, genuinely, and meaningfully in order to develop a friendship that has any level of "true intimacy." Whatever your means of doing so - whether it be a social networking site, phone calls, meeting in person, regular pen and paper, or email - developing these kinds of deeper relationships and maintaining them over time is typically possible with a relatively small group of people. I've been a walking Rolodex since I was a young child so the nature of these large networks is not new to me - it merely extends the reach of any one individual by a large magnitude that was previously possible only through other types of networking circles - clubs, professional circles, schooling, etc. However the usefulness of all of these networks - whether they be for social or professional associations or both - depends greatly on the user him/herself. I would hypothesize that someone who is relatively social in real life might extend this personality online and amass a large network through which he is able to make some friendships while utilizing a variety of contacts for mutual benefit. People who are relatively introverted in real life might amass a network online, but I wonder whether that person makes use of his/her network in the same way that a more extroverted personality would. Reader's paper may address these issues - or some of them - I cannot say without reading it. In conclusion, I would agree that close friendships are not possible with all members of a large network. However, I disagree that physical contact is the primary barrier as Reader appears to point out. To me, the real barrier is the amount and quality of communication. If the amount and quality of communication are good, then it is possible to turn a stranger into a friend over time in the online world - just as it was to become friends with a pen pal back in the day.



By: Ming Kwan

Mon, 10 Sep 2007 14:54:44 +0000

I agree that networks such as facebook will not necessarily increase the number of friends that you have. I find for myself and most of my friends, we use facebook to keep in touch with eachother - and not so much to amass the 'largest network'. I wouldn't say people go onto facebook to make new friends, but rather find long lost friens (as Mike mentioned) and to keep in touch with current ones. These thoughts apply more specifically to facebook since I'm not a member of MySpace.



By: Mike Dover

Mon, 10 Sep 2007 14:37:46 +0000

Interesting post. While it is true, that it is unlikely that someone would make close friends through Facebook alone, it has proved to be effective at tracking down long lost friends.