10 June 2011

F**k Your Follower Count

With the emergence of social networks, friendships can begin and end with the click of a button. On Facebook, your popularity is measured by the number of friends you have. On Twitter, your follower count. On LinkedIn, your connections. Although I don't have much of a problem with social networks when they are used accordingly, I dislike their effects on real relationships. Recently, I spoke to one of my cousins on the phone. The first thing she asked me was “Where have you been?” When I responded that I haven't gone anywhere, she clarified that she meant on Twitter. She hasn't seen me on Twitter, which actually just says that she hasn't spoken to me lately. Mind you, she is family. She knows my email, my home address, my mother's address, our grandmother's address, and most importantly, my phone number. If you have all of that, there is NO reason why you're asking me where I have been.
In the midst of my time away from social networks, I've noticed that “real” friends don't need to publicly @ or write on your wall to get in contact with you. Real friends don't need to validate their friendships by flooding your wall and Twitter mentions with random stuff. That's the reason why phone numbers are generally kept more private than Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/email addresses/websites. Only those closest to you should have it and use it.

On my 21st birthday, one of the people I thought was closest to me proved me right about my theory that social networks have helped diminish the sacredness of true friendships. While I won't go into detail, I just realized that life is too short to be bothered with friends who really aren't down for you. So I made quite a few adjustments to my inner circle. I could give a damn about my follower and “friend” count, but it always hurts when you see that others are out for quantity rather than quality.

What are your thoughts? Have social networks affected any of your relationships or friendships?


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