But I won’t be bothering you again. I need more than a reach around from my friends, even if it is just an iFriend.
Some people can pretend to be friends with thousands – I can’t. I have enough bandwidth to be a true and good friend to five or six people, tops. And I won’t pretend I am friends with you if I am not.
Sure, we can associate, work together, dream together, and even build things together. But I’ll never claim you as a friend unless a) you deserve it, and b) I deserve you.
But I hate thinking I have a friend when in fact I only have a contact. Someone that finds me interesting when I have something interesting for them, but finds nothing I do interesting at all otherwise.
That is not friendship. That is what we now call “Social Networking” – and it is a completely and totally broken. It is a false promise poorly delivered.
Social Networking, as I envisioned it five years ago, was NOT about a popularity contest. It was NOT about joining the coolest networks and getting the most “followers”. It was about connecting LIKE-MINDED people. It was about using your network to benefit yourself, AND your network. There is nothing social about one sided relationships. What we call “social networking” today is anything but. It is a popularity contest. It is High School cliques. It is an extreme disappointment to me.
LinkedIn has the only “Functional” Networking site I am aware of. I have at last SOME connection with each of my contacts that exists outside of the site itself.
This whole concept of adding friends is completely broken. In fact, it was probably flawed from the beginning. And now it is reduced to actually begging (add me, add me, I am your friend, really!). Guess what – that’s just not good enough. I need more from relationships than the fact we both joined the “social network of the week”.
I won’t add any more people to ANY of my social networks unless I know them. Unless I at least trust them. Unless they at least respect me. Unless we are mutually involved in something outside of the site we are meeting on. Yes, that could be through my blog, or theirs/yours. But is MUST exist outside of the site itself. If my only relationship with you is that we are both on Twitter, or OpenCoffeeClub, then you aren’t my friend – and I won’t waste your time, or let you waste mine by becoming “friends”.
So don’t ask unless you want to be ignored, or unless we actually have something to offer each other. I am not vying for attention with the huge egos that exist on the Internet – there are far more people on the web that you might be able to friend – and that might actually “friend” you. Don’t ask me who they are – I haven’t met any of them. The egos I have met are concerned with me as a number (Hey, I have 10,000 friends on FaceBook! – bullshit – I have a handful of friends on FaceBook. You have 10,000 people that you will eventually disappoint – because sooner or later, friends expect friendship – and you can’t deliver to 10,000 people. You can only let them down!).
So anyone else can win the numbers game – I’m not playing it (and never have). I know almost every person I am a “friend” of – either through my blog (or theirs), or through some other interaction/connection. Mostly related to real world transactions.
I would prefer that online, just as in real-life, I have a few select friends. People I count on, and people that can count on me. Meaningful relationships – not just numbers. I’ll leave the numbers game to the Scoble’s of the world.
Someone really smart will rethink this entire “friends” business and roll it out in a way that has some real meaning – and adds some real value. Start with the Linked in model – improve on it. Find the linkage (the real world linkage) between me and others. Discourage popularity contests. The most effective networks are the ones that offer the most relevance – to ME, as a user of the site. I don’t give a rat’s ass about popularity contests. Popular people are generally too busy managing their own ego-stroking to be of much value to me. Find me the hidden relationships within my small network that may be valuable to me – or others in my network.
Until then, I am checking out of the Social Media craze. I don’t need more contacts. But I would love to make more friends. This current crop of “Social Web Applications” doesn’t really provide either. Find a way to build meaningful AND useful relationships and you may be onto something.
In fact – I think LinkedIn is way undervalued. Both for their product, and their implementation.