While most people make the argument that the social web is doing exactly what the name suggests, making us more social and harnessing our collective strengths to deliver a better experience, others are not convinced.
With the rise of the social web, we have seen social networking and social bookmarking/socially driven sites garner a lot of attention. These sites allow users to connect with each other (in the case of social networking sites) and make collective decisions (in the case of socially driven sites) which are theoretically better than decisions an individual would make. The secret sauce for these sites is the so-called ‘friend power‘, but the definition of friendship seems to be evolving.
a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
On the social web, this individual is not someone that will help you in a time of crisis and is not someone you will go to for advice. You don’t need to have ever met this individual in person or even have talked to him in real-life. Furthermore there are no degrees of friendship or hierarchies in relationships. Wether another user be a boss, a co-worker, a client, an acquaintance, or simply someone you admire and would like to get to know better, on the social web, he is just a friend.
But how much value does this friendship hold? With ‘friendship’ made this easy I have had countless encounters where people have emailed me or added me to their contact lists (or social network lists) only to ask me to ask me for blogging tips, social media tips or critique (which I’m happy to give) or ask me to look at a facebook application they have created, etc, only to never get in touch again once their specific goal has been accomplished.
Is this friendship? Or is it playing a game called Friendship, using someone else’s words, by someone else’s rules?
The only way to truly excel on the social web is to get the definition of social right. It all starts with building relationships and not playing a game called friendship.