Recognizing the "Social" aspect of Social Networking (for what it is)

On two occasions tonight the question came up, “What is a friend”?  Both happened around discussions pertaining to social networking. 

Personally, I dislike the phrase “friend request”.  I have *very* few friends.  I know a hell of a lot of people though.  565 in my Instant Messaging client.  That is a lot of people.  VERY few friends.

People I meet on social networking sites are contacts.  Just because they join my network does not make me friends with anyone.  I just made a new contact – and I appreciate it.  But it is still a contact.

Friends are different.  Friends are people that you can call and ask for money and they ask you “how much” before they ask you “why?”

Friends are people that you absolutely trust with really important stuff – like your kids.

Friends are not bits and bytes flowing in through a cable modem.

And if you consider everyone who “follows” you to be a friend, then I think you are doing a disservice to your real friends.  The ones that would raise your kids for you. 

And you would trust them to do it.