When Facebook Friends Are Just Faces

By Pam Robinson

Jun 29, 2009 4:16pm

ABC News On Campus reporter Maxine Park blogs:Michelle Gutierrez is a Facebook user.    “I usually use it to network with other people,” Gutierrez said.    And like most people, she gets friend requests from co-workers, family members and classmates.      “It’s a great way to interact with the people that I’ve already established as Facebook friends,”Gutierrez said.    But on her tally of friends she has a few—and then some.    “I’ve got 2,226 friends,” Gutierrez said.    But how many of them are really her friends?    “I’ve probably met 75 percent of my Facebook friends, somehow,” Gutierrez said. “I don’t think it’s the kind of meaning of friend that we grew up on.”    Social networking sites like Facebook are changing the definition of what a friend is.    Alejandro  Chaib, who has 285 friends on Facebook, says he doesn’t just add anybody.    “I usually just add people that I pretty much always talk to,” Chaib said. “I don’t like having random people on there that I don’t really know.”    Cory Sanchez’s friend count stands at 603.    “The Facebook definition of a friend is different than what I think the definition of a friend is,” Sanchez said. “You don’t always talk to these people all the time.”    Karen Okonkwo says there’s only one reason for the Facebook friend function.    “It’s basically for networking,” Okonkwo said. “I have 1,092 friends on Facebook but I only use it for networking. I don’t use it to talk to my real friends.”    Gutierrez says this new kind of friendship is all a part of the ever-changing social media culture.    “Friend in this sense means I have something in common with you and we’re connected,”Gutierrez said. “More so than I care about you and I want to hang out with you.”    Either way Gutierrez believes it’s a new way to define friend for a new generation.    “There’s going to be this whole new elevation of relationships just based off of online social networking sites like Facebook,” Gutierrez said. “Our generation is more comfortable with it and generations later on will be too as they’re introduced to it earlier.”

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