Monday, May 11, 2015

Follow You, Follow Me: The Glossary of Social Media

I'm still thinking about social media.

A few weeks ago, someone I know through artsy social circles around town offered to make our friendship official.

“I would like you to call me friend,” he said.  I happily agreed.

Since then, I’ve shared several things with him: fleeting thoughts, clever quips, the progress of my various projects -- the projects, I presume, that sparked our friendship.  He hasn’t liked anything I’ve done.

He didn’t tell me he didn’t like them, but he hasn’t said that he does like them, and his silence speaks volumes.

Welcome to Facebook.

These terms, and this analogy, are undoubtedly old news, but as social media evolves to include other, notably different terms, it’s important to revisit their psychology.  

Amazing Arizona Comics, KaraokeFanboy Press, social media, Russ Kazmierczak
You'd never know they were "odd!"
Consider Facebook, versus Twitter or Instagram.  On Facebook, we “friend” each other, and, as I’ve always understood it, friendship is a mutual exchange of care and communication.  I certainly don’t have to like everything my friends do, but I’d imagine I like a majority of the things they do, as these commonalities are the foundation for said friendship.  Felix and Oscar may not have had the cleanliness of the apartment in common, but they seem to do many other things together, like chase girls and play cards.  That’s two out of three things in common, just from my pedestrian knowledge of The Odd Couple.

So, considering friendship is rooted in care and communication, which are emotional quantifiers, should I feel hurt when my “friends” don’t like my stuff?  Especially when I seem to “like” most everything they do?

On the other hand, friendship is a moot point on Twitter and Instagram.  I don’t have friends; I have followers.  Following is a singular effort on the part of the follower, with no obligations or demands to the one being followed.  If I’m going somewhere, and you want to follow me, so be it.  I’d be going there anyway.  I may choose to follow you in the future, out of appreciation and/or genuine interest of where you’re going, but, again, that’s exclusively my decision, with no obligations or demands to you.

Interestingly, if you’re following me only in the hopes of my following you, well, then we’re just going in circles, aren’t we?  Or writing a great 1978 Genesis song.  One of the two. 

You may not see the danger in these terms, because the lines between social platforms is so blurred, they’re practically all the same thing. You can post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, and countless other digital forums in one fail finger swipe, making friend and follower one in the same . . . Ah, therein lies the conclusion.  In the future, folks won’t want friends.  They’ll want followers.  They really won’t have to “like” anything these “friends” do, because it won’t be the quality of the relationship that matters, but the quantity collected.  Sadly, they won’t know the difference.

And, sadly, the future is now.

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