From kindergarten to high school and college to book clubs, people in today’s society like to belong even when they don’t really participate. With online groups like Facebook, MySpace, and now even Twitter, you can experience the thrill of being “accepted” and listed as a “top friend” without really committing to anything at all. The general complaint that these people aren’t really your friends is moot; either you choose to associate with them or you don’t.
One way to look at this phenomenon is the celebrity aspect; if enough people think that you’re important or a VIP, then you are. While some people seek out this celebrity status on their own and aspire to it, others are happy on the sidelines just being close to it, whether they’re riding the coattails of celebrity or just feel more important brushing up against it.
Normally, celebrity is the opposite of anonymity (and all that that implies), meaning that you may be recognized anywhere and at any time. Online celebrity, however, has the benefit of being someone without being anyone and only on your terms, a comfortable place to be accepted before slipping out to the store “unnoticed and unrecognized.”
Back when there was only instant messaging on AOL, there was a sort of comfort seeing an actual friend or relative suddenly appear on your buddy list. Even if you weren’t talking to them, you knew that they existed, were still around, and was obviously doing something meaningful online (or not). In a lonely room or house far away, it’s instant companionship sans interaction through the miracle of electronic voyeurism (that is what you signed up for, right?)
Now that IMs are being replaced with micro-blogging apps like Twitter, thoughts go out at 140 characters at a time. Not only are your “friends” there but you know what they’re thinking, doing, and in many cases advertising. The bad news is that Twittering, like any social network, can be abused like anything else or turned into yet another corporate mouthpiece selling energy drinks, but the good news is that you don’t have to subscribe to anyone you don’t want to (and can cancel at anytime).
So, who wants to be my friend? I promise to only spam you when I’m selling something or have have something deeply profound to say.
Orignal From: Joining Another Social Network; Be My Friend?