When Sharon Williams, a sophomore at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, noticed that none of her Facebook "friends" ever called her, contacted her outside the website, or expressed any interest in her personal life beyond an occasional status "like," she began to wonder how deep their emotional ties truly ran.
Sharon's Web-savvy roommate, Buddy Solito, told her, "Get over it. They're not real friends, they're just Facebook friends."
Sharon wasn't sure how to respond.
"I was fathomed," she says. "To me, a friend is a friend is a friend. I didn't realize that some people might not take Web-based friendship as seriously as I did."
The revelation that his Facebook "friends" might not be real friends didn't represent nearly the same blow to Sharon's roommate.
A self-described chill, laid-back guy, Buddy explains, "I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. For that reason, I'm reticent to accuse someone of not being a real friend just because they're also my Facebook friend. That being said and done, it has occurred to me that people who you never get together with, never talk to and never see may not be 'friends' in the traditional dollars and cents of the word. So when Nick mentioned that thing about Facebook friends not being real friends, I was pretty nonplussed. Sharon's very trusting, and I think a little native. Whereas for me, it was nothing that hadn't crossed my mind before."
Sharon is no longer nearly as active on Facebook now that her Facebook "friendships" have come upon troubled waters.
"I used to love Facebook," she says. "It made me feel so connected, so incommunicado with people. And now I've done a total three-sixty. Buddy's comment basically threw a complete monkey wrench in the works for me."
Buddy, on the other hand, still enjoys his Facebook time.
"I appreciate it for what it is. Maybe my Facebook friends are real friends, maybe they're not. But irregardless, I'm not going to let physiological questions distract from my Facebook experience."
Well said, Buddy.