Do you Like me, Will you be my Friend?

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This is a guest blog by Dave Robinson. Dave is a Technical Manager within Capgemini TS, with an interest in Infrastructure and Social Networking tools. It seems that some words have taken on a new meaning thanks to Social Networks. Our “Friends” are not necessarily “people you know well and regard with affection and trust” – Dunbar […]

This is a guest blog by Dave Robinson. Dave is a Technical Manager within Capgemini TS, with an interest in Infrastructure and Social Networking tools.

It seems that some words have taken on a new meaning thanks to Social Networks. Our “Friends” are not necessarily “people you know well and regard with affection and trust” – Dunbar says we can only maintain a social relationship with 150 people at a time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar‘s_number), and of these, only 10-20 are close friends, so how is it that in Facebook it is not uncommon to have hundreds of “Friends”? Many of these are not “friends” at all, merely people we have been in contact with – in the real world they are the people that we meet, possibly greet, and then forget.

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What is the significance of “Joining“ a group, or “Following a Cause”? In the real-world, this would normally mean adding our support – but recently there was public outrage in the UK when a Facebook group set up in support of a serial killer attracted thousands of “Followers”. But were they Supporters of the cause? In fact, it was necessary to “Join” the group and become a “Follower” in order to leave comments – the majority of which were expressing their anger and opposition to the group.

In a similar vein, we can “like” a blog post, but does this mean we really Like it (in the real-world sense) or just that we think it would be something our friends would find interesting or useful? (and then who are our “Friends”….. friends, colleagues, people who share our interests in a social networking site……?)

Finally we have the verb “to Lurk” – “to lie in wait, lie in ambush, behave in a sneaky and secretive manner” – all rather sinister and antisocial… but in Social Networks, a Lurker is someone who will follow a discussion but without making a contribution themselves – and up to 90% of the participants in social networks are, in fact, “Lurkers”.

So I guess I should be happy if anyone Lurking in the shadows decides that they Like this post, start to “Follow” me, “Join” the group and make me their “Friend”!

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