There’s a rift forming in your Friendverse and you need to close it before it destroys the social fabric that holds your Friendverse together. The Friendverse is the invisible bond that connects you with your friends – the people you really know, like, and trust.
friend n. – A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
Yesterday, I was part of a blog conversation about the need for a standard that makes "Friend" lists more portable. Moving from one social network to another, Twitter to Pownce for example, can be a frustrating experience because you have to re-build your "Friend" list every time you move. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take your "Friend" list with you when you move to, or start ,a new social network? The experience is especially frustrating for the socialites that have thousands of supposed friends – people like Robert Scoble who boast "Friend" lists numbering in the thousands. Yes, a standard that makes these lists more portable would be nice but maybe we should be looking at the way we’re "Friending" before we start developing a system to support meaningless "Friend" lists.
I’ve received multiple "Friend" requests from Twitter users that have "Friend" lists numbering in the thousands. The same thing happens to me on Facebook. I completely ignore most of these requests because I don’t like the idea of "Friending" people I don’t know, like, or trust. I should be able to invite a "Friend" over for dinner. A "Friend" would come to my funeral. Don’t you want to know someone, at least a little, before you add them to your "Friend" list? I guarantee you this, Robert Scoble has people on his "Friend" lists that he wouldn’t associate with in the real world.
I believe my Friendverse should be based on real relationships, a true reflection of my real world social network. I think people with "Friend" lists numbering in the thousands aren’t respecting their Friendverse. Not respecting your Friendverse, letting that rift form, can have real world consequences. Your real world friends, that crucial support network, will weaken as your expanding and meaningless "Friend" lists consume your time, weakening your social network. Your real world friends will begin to question their value in your social network as they become one of thousands that call you a "Friend." If you have thousands of "Friends," what does that make them? A "special" friend, a "best" friend, a "real" friend? If you don’t give your Friendverse the respect it deserves you’ll end up with a very weak social network and few real world friends.
So perhaps we should stop looking for ways to expand and transport meaningless "Friend" lists and instead focus on building a meaningful and rich Friendverse. People we like, know, and trust.
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