A few years back, I had the chance to visit with an old friend in California with whom I attended high school. Our wives and we all attended college together, and we were close for about a decade while our now-adult children were young. Over the years, Facebook helped us follow the general trajectories of each other’s careers and family lives. About fifteen years had passed since my family and I had moved away, and the reunion of old friends, brief as it was, reinforced our friendship.
Several years ago, when one of our sons was in high school and had been on Facebook for only a short while, my wife was surprised by the number of “friends” he had on that site—three hundred some, as I recall. She asked him how many were really his friends, and got the usual noncommittal teenager response. Now that he is out of college and gainfully employed, our son’s list of Facebook friends has risen to just about nine hundred. My tally is much smaller, I must confess, and includes many whom I’ve never met.
Media - Age - Twitter - Friends - Followers
Such is friendship in the social media age. On Twitter, one has no friends, only “followers”; on LinkedIn, the career networking site, we are likewise friendless, having simply “connections,” a suitably abstract and businesslike term.
Thoughts of some of my Facebook friendships came to mind recently as I read an essay by William Hazlitt. In “The Pleasures of Hating,” Hazlitt talks about the many...
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