The Friend Trend: Who do you trust?

Published: October 2, 2010 | Last Updated: October 2, 2010 By | 4 Replies Continue Reading

As often as I Google and check out Trip Advisor, Zagat, or Amazon for advice or product ratings, I’m just as likely to turn to a friend.

Some of my friends are born infomaniacs. They seem to know more than I do about everything. Others are niche specialists: Judy knows the menu of nearly every restaurant in Manhattan; Linda tracks the new arrivals at Home Goods and TJ Maxx. I depend on the knowledge base of my friends, online and off, to help expand my own.

A recent article in the New York Times by Jenna Wortham, Search Takes a Social Turn, documents the trend of people turning to a trusted online circle to help them make choices—dubbing it the "friend trend." As a result, a growing number of web-based companies are devising ways to harness the power of such data to drive sales.

The article mentions a start-up company in New York named Hunch, one of several that has developed sophisticated software to analyze the preferences of someone’s friends in order to predict buying behavior. The company’s database shows, for example, that Twitter users prefer the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the theatre.

The trend reflects another parallel between the real world and the virtual one. Trust is an essential ingredient of any solid friendship. We take it for granted that our close friends will be honest when we ask their opinions, and that they’ll rarely lead us wrong whether it’s about a product or personal issue—certainly not intentionally. They have our backs and have our interests at heart. That’s why a breach of trust shakes the very foundations of a friendship.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Friends says:

    The problem with relying on your friends for trustworthy information is that your friends can’t always be trusted.

    In fact when I search I don’t want to find out what my friends know (I could just ask them, after all, which would be much more enjoyable).

    Instead I want to know what is out there, beyond my limited social circle – what’s new, different, exciting and fresh.

    I don’t want to buy what my friends buy, I want to buy what’s really good. I’m quite capable of making my own decisions (and mistakes) without involving my mates thank you very much !

  2. Irene says:

    Hi Suzanne,

    Thanks for reading my blog and offering your thoughts~ I’m sure your comments will resonate with others.

    Warm regards,


  3. Suzanne says:

    I agree that trust and feeling safe is extremely important in close relationships. I have learned that when I share something important with another person who is special to me, it is important to know that the person values what I am saying, even if he or she may not agree. When I start to feel anxious because I can sense the the other person is not responding as they did in the past, and my attempts to share my feelings cause that person to negate my feelings, I realise that I need to come back to myself. All relationship must start with me valuing me and my thoughts and feelings. Otherwise then I begin to feel abandoned. Only time will tell if a friendship will grow and I think that it is wise to start small and let the friendship emerge as it will with good boundaries in place for me. One motto that I find useful is this; ‘Don’t give out more than you can afford to lose’.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I absolutely agree with you! It’s all about trust. I mean, there’s no real dialogue if atleast one side doesnt speak out honestly. Therefore, there’s no real connection. Or no chance for it, rather.

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