I have 464 Facebook friends. I didn't even realize I knew 464 people. But considering I am now friends with almost all of the over 300 members of my high school class, it makes sense.
Do I talk to all those people daily? Weekly? Monthly? In most cases, no. I've even reached out and said hello to some without a response.
But they are still my friends in the world of Facebook, where the definition of friend is a little different than the meaning in real life.
If someone I went to school with -- high school, elementary school, or even college -- asks to be my friend, I accept ... as long as I remember them. It's nice to see people I haven't seen in a long time and it's great to be in touch. My 20-year high school reunion is coming up and I feel much less anxious about going now even though I haven't seen most of those people in 20 years.
But there are many people I am friends with on Facebook that if I was standing next to them in line at the supermarket, I wouldn't recognize them.
I asked a few of my friends -- Facebook friends, yes, but real friends as well -- what they thought.
Diana thinks Facebook throws around the word "friend." She told me, "We all have real friends on Facebook, people we have a relationship with outside of cyberspace. I think we also have quite a few friends that don't fall into that category. You know, the people we were friends with years and years ago that we probably wouldn't recognize if we were sitting next to them in a bar, or the people we were once friendly with, but now hide on our news feed."
"There are people I love to keep up with but I hate, hate, hate, when people I didn't even talk to in high school 'friend' me," Brianne said. "I end up putting them on limited profile because I feel guilty. But seriously, if it was just my serious friends -- like ones I'd invite to my wedding (my definition) -- I'd only have like 20 friends."
Christie said, "I have some people who I enjoy talking to frequently, others who are my friends just for the addictive games, and some people who I just happen to know and would like someone to tell ME why I feel obligated to accept their 'invite.'"
For me, my Facebook friends are a collection of current life and past life friends. Some who I see all the time -- and those are the ones who I actually Facebook with the least. And some are the ones I wish I saw more often but can't because of distance -- the ones I Facebook with the most. Then there are the others -- the ones who I remember from the hazy days of school, the ones who I was excited to see but really don't communicate with much.
How do you define a Facebook friend?
Image via basibanget/Flickr