I was thinking about Facebook a while back. Not about buying shares. But about how it took off with what we in the digital age call social networking. It's addictive for many. Not for me. I've never been that gregarious. In fact, I'm more of an introvert who treasures his privacy.
In my opinion, people on Facebook often cross the line by sharing too much information. Who needs to know where you went and what you did every goddam minute of the day. OK have it your way, but it does get a little tiresome and tedious. Of course, family excepted.
Still, that's not my main concern about Facebook. I really don't like what it's done to the concept of "friend". A TV commercial illustrates what I'm talking about. I don't remember what was being pitched, but the narrative of it involved a dad who finally comes around and joins the Facebook crowd. He's ecstatic about his popularity. He has 19 "friends". His daughter's face widens into a Cheshire cat grin: she has thousands.
See what I mean. We used to have a perfectly legitimate word for people you know and are on good terms with. Acquaintances. Guess it's too long or hard to spell or something else. . But just the same, nobody has a thousand friends. No matter how great that sounds.
"Friend" has been given so wide a net that it is practically meaningless. Semantically, the word is a shell of its former self. A friend used to be someone like the legendary Sicilian Damon who pledged his life for his condemned friend Pythias. Or Dr. Watson who thought Sherlock Holmes' friendship was "worth a wound". Or David and Jonathan, the son of King Saul. After Jonathan fell in battle, David was so heartbroken that he uttered a famous lament on losing someone he loved more strongly than any woman.
The point is that friends are few and far between. A person is lucky to have one true friend. A friend is more than someone to share personal information with. A friend is another self, an alter ego. One soul in two bodies.(Aristotle)
So no matter how many "friends" you have on Face book, don't forget what Lincoln once said. Calling a tail a leg don't make it a leg.
Filed under: Pop Culture