by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
friends, social networks

The Impact Of Having Friends Never Fade Away

from the they're-stuck-with-you dept

For many years, we've wondered about how new technologies may start to change the nature of friendship. In the past, friends would come and go over time, as friendships grew and receded during different stages of life for different reasons -- and that was fine. But in an age where everyone is connected electronically all of the time, and whether or not someone is a "friend" is a binary decision set at the click of a mouse, some are pointing out that it seems weird that social networks are setting up people to remain "friends" forever, even if they're not still friendly in real life.

Of course, it appears that much of this is actually mitigated by social norms and the rapid turnover of social networks. So, for example, while I've recently had many high school friends "refriend" me on Facebook, and I may chat briefly with those I really was friendly with, I pretty much ignore those that I barely knew. Sure they're on my "friend" list, but beyond that, it's rather inconsequential. But, more importantly, with social networks rising and falling rapidly, we seem to have a natural culling mechanism. So, all those friends I was connected to via SixDegrees and Friendster are meaningless now because I never use those services any more, and at some point the same will likely be true for Facebook.

Still, in the link above, Scott Brown does offer one amusing suggestion: a Facebook app that he calls the "Fade Utility." If there are "untended friends," they gradually fade from your friend list. Just like in real life.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  • identicon
    illegalprelude, 24 Oct 2008 @ 1:40pm

    Good Point

    I wish they would introduce one of the following, either a separate friends and people you know list so your friends are different then people you just went to HS with for example

    Or more so, a feature close to whats mentioned. If I have not interacted with person X for 6 months maybe, they fade and after a year, they disappear because I really probably dont care about you if I havent talked to you in 6 months, let alone a year

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Skeptical Cynic (profile), 24 Oct 2008 @ 2:36pm

    Don't be afraid to delete!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2008 @ 8:07am

      Re: Don't be afraid to delete!!

      Amen to this. Why is that so hard? I mean, especially when you're talking about people you apparently don't care to know any more...?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bradley Stewart, 24 Oct 2008 @ 6:08pm


    Not a bad idea but out of nowhere this just gave me an idea. Why not have a site where you could just build your own friend. If you get tired of your creation all you would have to do is change it. The site could also analyze how you are changing or have changed over time and why.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Megyn K, 25 Oct 2008 @ 12:25am

    But who are Fox & Friends Friends?

    I only keep friends that I am good friends with. Sure, Brian is one of my friends, but I don't really consider him a friend.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2008 @ 9:13pm

    Separate Lists

    I have my friends divided into many groups in my Buddies List on IM. As time passes and I don't hear from them, they migrate to lower lists, but I am happy they never fade away. I won't forget them so why should my list?

    In World of Warcraft (and other games) we get a Friends list for players we want to remember, and an Ignore list for annoying gits you can't stand to hear, but there is no list for Folks-to-Distrust, Ungrateful, or Rude. Thus my Avoid-Grouping-With and Don't-Do-Favors-For characters are in my Friends list with annotation.

    Most social networks allow blocking. How many allow flagging as "not actually a friend," or "just an acquaintance" or multiple personalized lists? Is it some, most, all?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jake, 26 Oct 2008 @ 1:59pm

      Re: Separate Lists

      Facebook offered something a bit like that with their 'How Do You Know This Person' tick-boxes, but they seem to have scrapped it.
      And how about a separate list for people you actually couldn't stand when you were in school and only friended so you could poke fun at them for how much wealthier and more successful you are? I think it's safe to say that everyone nerdy enough to read this blog has quite a few of that sort of Facebook friend.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.