Unless you have been living in a remote cave somewhere on your own, divorced from the world of the internet and therefore unaware of the phenomena of online friends, the whole concept probably baffles you as much as it does me.
Many of the social media sites, particularly Facebook, actively encourage you to collect friends like most kids collect photographs of their favourite film stars or sports heroes. What’s the point? We are all spread across the planet for a start. Secondly, unless any of our online ‘friends’ are actual genuine ones, people we know personally and have spent time with, the probability of actually meeting is remote in the extreme.
At the time of writing this I have over two hundred according to FB. Out of that number I ‘chat’ to a handful, mostly my personal friends spread across the globe, my editor and writers like myself. Will I sit down together with the rest of the two hundred online friends over a meal or a beer? Highly unlikely! So why do we do it? What actual benefit do we gain from it?
From my personal point of view as a writer, being totally mercenary about it, maybe one or two of those folk will decide to buy a book of mine. When I get a new ‘friend request’ from someone I have never met in my entire life, nor are ever likely to, I accept. But then that’s me – mister nice guy.
Some merely hope that when I accept their online friendship that I will participate with them for hours on end playing the stupid online games FB offers – not! Others, having made themselves known to me, never bother to use the ‘chat’ option so that we can get to know each other a little more, as far as it’s possible to do so online. Mind you, neither do I.
So I repeat myself once more, what’s the point of it all? More to the point, what does Face Book get out of this concept of ‘friends’ we all make use of I ask myself?