A couple of years ago my job had a leadership consultant come in to train us. We each took a personality profile test and received a full report. To this day, I always remember one line from my report: “To Stacey, strangers are just friends that she hasn’t met yet.” I loved that line because…it’s true. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad one, but I tend to consider acquaintances, colleagues and of course other bloggers that I know as “friends.”
The Internet has only amplified this personality trait of mine. Facebook has redefined the term “friend” and caused us each to think that we have hundreds (and some, thousands) of them. We let them follow our every move and thought by updating our status for them daily (hourly?). Twitter is a different animal because those profiles are generally open to the public, thereby garnering each if us thousands of followers with whom we chat day in and day out. The same goes for our blog readers, although we may feel like we “know” them if they’ve been reading us for an extended period of time.
All of these platforms – and tons others – have blurred the lines of what a true “friend” means. In those circles, the more you have, means the more valuable the platform (and your sphere of influence) is for advertisers. Not to mention that there are countless stories of how over-sharing has come back to bite a blogger in the behind, or the hurtful effects that trolls can have on writers, or even how so-called “friends” are simply reading your status updates because they are nosy and spiteful.
Ted Rubin, a social media strategist who coined the term “Return on Relationships” recently advised a crowd of bloggers to “take back the word friend.” He reminded us that Facebook doesn’t own the word; we do. Here are some gems that Ted gives us to connect with online friends the way we would in real life:
- A Friend Is Not Just An Audience
- A Friend Is Not Just a Number
- A Friend Has Shared Interests
- Friendships Require Maintenance
- Do Unto Others
Great advice for anyone – on or offline.