Facebook Friendships

Yesterday's Reuters article titled How to decline Facebook friends without offence got me to thinking about the whole "friend" thing.. I seem to have been processing for a long time.. wondering if the idea of a "friend" is a mainly seasonal thing or something greater.. consider this excerpt from the Reuters piece:

"Can I be your friend?" might work as an ice-breaker among small children, but it's not a question you hear often between adults, at least not outside of Las Vegas.

Friendship, it is generally understood, is a relationship that evolves through shared interests, common experiences and a primeval need to share your neighbor's power tools.

Yet for many people, Facebook permits a return to the simplicity of the schoolyard.

Rather than inviting someone to be our Facebook friend only after we've become friends in the real world, many of us are using Facebook as a short-cut around all that time-consuming relationship building.
Looking back I think that I have had many Facebook Friends in my life.. work friends.. church friends.. neighborhood friends.. relationships built around situational proximity and common interests that never went deep.. never got past the Facebook stage.. but I have other friendships.. not many for sure.. that went past the Facebook stage.. went deep.. were vulnerable.. evidenced transparency.. embraced honesty.. so encouraging.

So I am wondering today if Facebook friendship is the overwhelming norm or if you have found more in your life? I have to admit that I have found but few people in my life that I can bear my soul to.. not that I am opposed to sharing with more.. just seems that I have not found many who want to go deep.

What has been your experience in this area? I would love to hear your thoughts!


  1. Friends are very difficult to find, especially for men. I haven't found a guy I could go deep with in over 20 years (since before I got married). Men just don't seem to seek those kinds of relationships. And, past a certain age we're too busy to really make an effort to forge them or we don't even know what we're missing because we've never had it.

    I go deeper with my on-line friends than I do with any real life friends. And, the majority of my on-line friends are women.

  2. When I first moved to St. Louis to go to seminary, i was bombarded with new friend requests from people I had just met once. I accepted, out of fear of being seen as rude.

    I then realized I was developing the level of friendship I (thought I) had with those people based solely on reading their facebook statuses and their facebook activity. To me, I thought I knew quite a bit about their life and actually felt like I knew them well. Then I realized that I didn't. I knew what they did, but I really didn't know who they were. And these people sit in class with me or live next door to me.

    So I deleted almost everyone from the seminary off my facebook list. I felt like those were false friendships, and that if I wanted to get to know my next door neighbor, I should take a loaf of bread over, sit with them to talk.

    I'm glad I did it, because it's forced me to become more intentional about who I pursue and in what way. I now have a few closer relationships with people here rather than just a bunch of shallow relationships that I think are deeper than that really are.

  3. I think FB just reveals something that's already there. Shallow friendships are nothing new. What I think it has done was accelerate the degradation of the word friend, but that was already happening.

    Oh, btw, apparently great minds think alike. http://www.spiritualtramp.com/blog/2010/02/friending ;-)

  4. I think having one or two friends to bare soul to is quite enough for me. I actually have 2. FB friends are quite something else and I have learnt that it is vital to see these 'friendships' for what they are, just a bit of friendly interaction. People generally wear masks in life and the Internet is the perfect place to wear an even greater mask. In RL it is harder to maintain those masks, but possible. On the Internet it's easy and therefore friendships can only exist on a certain level. If our world is travelling towards the bulk of relationships online, then I think that people will suffer even more loneliness than they already do.

  5. quite true on how hard it is to form real friendships later on in life. the best chance was really in highschool for me... but i think i blew that one

  6. I have never had a lot of close friends and the older I get the harder it is to make new ones. In fact, other than online, I have not made a new friend in years!

    I value the few close friends I have but the one person I feel closest to is a woman I met on line that I will probably never meet in person. So we may never have tea or a beer, but we do have a close connection and I can bare my soul to her.

  7. I tried Facebook for a few months this past summer. I did not like it (for me) and couldn't quite put my finger on it. I had friends with ALS and those without. One of the conclusions that I came to was With each set of friends I was reminded how not normal my life is. The non-ALS friends' lives were going on - all the status updates were people doing things that I was no longer able to do. I didn't want to be reminded. And with my ALS FB friends it was a reminder of how different my life is because of this disease. I felt selfish thinking those thoughts, but knew what I needed.

    I also realized there wasn't depth and intimacy with most of those friends.

    And then I heard entitled "A people" -- about Christians looking and being different. His reference to FB was 15 seconds of a 30 minute sermon, but his words captured what I had been feeling but didn't know how to express...

    Because we get out there and we honestly think people want to know how we’re doing. ________is sad. _________ is happy. And they get 500-some friends and think they’ve arrived. 500 people they really don’t know. See God didn’t design us to have degrees of separation. He designed us to have face to face things. I think the world, even as connected as we think we are, is the loneliest place on the planet right now.

    See if anybody should be face to face people, it should be us. Because we understand that God created us to have an intimate relationship with Him. And in having an intimate relationship with Him, he meant for us to have intimate relationships with one another.

  8. Thanks all for those great responses. Ditto what Jill said about the world being a lonely place and the need for "face to face" relationships.. of course even those can be FB superficial relationships :(


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