In the Media – Has social media changed the definition of friendship?

Published: January 5, 2016 | Last Updated: January 5, 2016 By | 7 Replies Continue Reading
NPR station KPCC

NPR station KPCC

KPCC Screenshot

KPCC Screenshot

The definition of friendship depends on whom you ask because no two people define it precisely the same way. Someone may feel as close to someone they call an “acquaintance” as someone else feels towards a “best friend.” Since the advent of social media, the definition of “friend” has gotten even murkier.

NPR affiliate radio station KPCC in Los Angeles interviewed Dr. Levine and her colleague, Dr. Geoffrey Greif, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and expert on male friendships about how social media has changed the definition of friendship.

On the program website, host Larry Mantle posed a few questions for the panelists and listeners to respond to:

It reads:

Facebook allows us to claim hundreds and hundreds of people as our “Friends.”

But has that in any way changed how you define your friends? From Aristotle to Facebook, what does friendship mean to you? How do you define it? And do you think that social media allows you to have more or fewer, or better friends?

You can listen to the program in its entirety by clicking here:

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Category: IN THE MEDIA

Comments (7)

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  1. Sandra Anne says:

    One of the best things about Facebook is when it can be used as a tool to connect — and then expand on that connection. One example: We recently started a neighborhood support group, which includes about 15 women. One of the women who started the group started a private Facebook page just for our group. On this page, we announce group meetings and parties, plus we share photos from our gatherings.

    For us, Facebook is a way to schedule face-to-face gatherings, and to reach everyone without spending half the day talking on the phone. It has helped unite a neighborhood — and community charity projects! Nothing wrong with that, in my book.

    On the other hand, when I used FB for personal use, I do find there’s something rather “artificial” or staged about the whole thing. People post photos of their homes, exotic vacations, etc., and they boast nonstop about their children and their successes. Back in the day, that sort of showiness and bragging were considered bad manners, or a sign of egomania. Now it’s acceptable and encouraged. I don’t know what to think about all that ……

  2. Ben says:

    CNN Broadcast a show about Steve Jobs this week which was most enlightening. One of the most profound statements for me was the one where these devices were found to be “isolation” fostering devices. Machines are good for performing calculations and researching information or even automating mundane repetitive tasks. It’s certainly easy to keep in touch with friends who live far away. The older I get the more true a phrase like, “If you can count your true friends on one hand you are doing good” is really true.

    What I sincerely hope is that everyone sees this medium for what it really is instead of what the creators like Zuckerberg want you to believe it is. Friends???? Are you out of your cotton picking mind????

    I went to a church one time that the pastor tried to preach on the word “Pharmacy” where the root word derivation was from the middle-ages meaning “witchcraft.” I take medications every day. I stopped going to that church.

    Are Facebook friends really friends??? Not in my mind. It’s more like pictoral personal forums where you get a glimpse of what’s important to individuals you may have known or others with similar interests or backgrounds.

  3. Suzyq says:

    FB should stand for Fake. Most of the people on there are only to broadcast their own popularity or to use as a tool to hurt others: from relationships on the low or to get back at people who are supposedly friends by putting pictures on there going out without others. Sad but true. I only have found one group on there which has been a good group for support of a medical condition, even that has “admins” to rid the group of fakers and those using it to try and pick-up women. People who can’t be friends with you except on Facebook (unless overseas) aren’t real friends. Texting is great for getting messages on meeting locations, times etc. it shouldn’t be used a main friendship tool as part of a relationship. Not healthy in my opinion. Then again I guess I’m not 20 so the younger generation may be using it different than I who is over 35.

    • Joao Walkden says:

      Suzq. I have a fiancé who says the exact same term: “fake book”. She and I are over 30. My opinion is that Facebook can be used in different ways. Just like some people are social connectors, it uses the benefit that what Six degrees of Kevin Bacon theory shows. So, it can be a useful tool connect some people with new people.
      Lately I only use it share funny videos with some people and view others.

  4. Amy F says:

    I think FB has expanded the use of the words friend and friendship and perhaps for future generations, who will never know a world without the internet and social media.
    Strictly online relationships have a different level of intimacy than real time friendships and sometimes online friendships can feel more intimate or less complicated because we don’t see all dimensions of the individuals as we would in a real time friendship.
    Whatever the case, social media is here to stay for the foreseeable future and society will adapt accordingly.

  5. Jannie says:

    I’m not convinced FB is better for real friendship. Yes it connects people and perhaps brings people together that might not have ever gotten together, But on the other hand I find it to be surreal on a screen to have a true friendship……eye to eye contact is what I feel most people need and want. I also find that there is a lot of drama that most people turn away from after awhile. Otherwise take what you can but for me it leaves a huge gap.

    • Lisa says:

      Jannie, I am with you on this issue. I think there is nothing like getting together and actually being with your friends. There is no substitution for real friends getting together , spending quality time and bonding in a way you cannot do with your virtual friendships. This is where people really are losing touch with people. I am old school and I will always reach out and initiate getting together with friends because I think it is very important to keep real time friendships alive. There is drama with virtual friendships as we; but, without that personal interaction and working things out in person, virtual disagreements will just get ignored, or you will be deleted from the friendship with no way to talk it out because people are losing the the personal touch, and we really are forgetting how to deal with people unless over the internet, texting, FB, Twitter and so on. I still have friends who send cards with messages. I respond with cards and actual phone calls too. I am sad at how we have become a disposable society, and people are discarded so easily.

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