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Will You Be My Fracquaintribe?

Caveat emptor readtor:

This post might mirror my life: jumbled, disorganized, exhausted, frantic. (And yet, there’s a tranquil part, too, because I am SO THRILLED TO BE LIVING IN A HOUSE FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1996!!!)

You’ve been warned. ; )

Word cloud generated with Wordle.net

*ahem*

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the definition of “friend.”

I really started thinking about it when I first joined Facebook four years ago — and people started “friending” me. Not be-friending, mind you, just friending. Suddenly, “friend” could be a verb that didn’t require a prefix.

Friend Me! I’m Friendly! And I’m Not a Psychopath!

And it didn’t require close connection with the person in question, either. We got rid of the “be-” and, at the same time, got rid of the need for knowing someone before we call them a “friend.”

On Facebook, I discovered, friends were friends. Acquaintances were friends.

Annnnnnd…total strangers were friends! What?! Upon a friend-friend’s recommendation, I found myself friending someone I’d never met in person or even online. I trusted the friend-friend not to steer me toward a crazy person, so why not?

So. “Friend” no longer meant “person I spend lots of time with and trust with most aspects of my life.” In this brave new cyberworld, a friend was someone with whom I had a connection either through personal experience or through decent referrals.

How cozy.

Along Came Twitter

Since May 2010, I’ve been a Twitterer. Or a Tweeter. Over a year, and I don’t know the nomenclature for what I am. Identity crisis aside, I’ve been tweeting and re-tweeting for 14 months now…

…and, wonder of wonders, I’ve got better connections with my tweetlings (as I call them!) than with the “acquaintances” and “total strangers” whom I have friended on Facebook.

My tweetlings tweet and RT (read: re-tweet) about me, and I about them. I help them out; they help me out. There’s a lot of give and only a little take. Whereas Facebook “friends” will opine and argue (sometimes discourteously), tweetlings tend to be polite.

From what I can tell, the rule on Twitter seems to be:

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

I kinda sorta like that a lot.

Tribe Hummus*

The newest part of my What’s A Friend? Saga is that Dino Dogan of DIY Blogger NET invited me to join Triberr.

You can click through to read the whos and whatsits — but basically, Tribber is designed so that individual tribe members can automatically retweet each other’s blog posts, thereby giving each member access to the others’ followers.

I’m too new to tell, really, just how much Triberr is extending my reach…but extend my reach it does. When I tweet my blog posts, 339 followers see my tweet.

But through the members of my Triberr tribe, my posts reach 6,785 Twitter users.

That’s a lot of free advertising. ; ) It’s brought me some new connections, and I’m pondering setting up my own tribe. I’ll blog more about that in the future — so prepare ye for updates! ; )

Triberr members promote each other; simply by being a member, I’m doing something good for three other people. And by being members, those three people are doing something good for me.

Friends do that.

Fracquaintribes

So. What do you think of all this?

Ten years from now, will we still have friends?
Will we have acquaintances?
Or will we all be members of tribes or clans, less and less individualized and more community-minded?

Is any of this pointing toward a sort of hive mind?

Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated. All of this re-defining of relationships is interesting…but how far will it go before the intellectual exercise turns into a humanity we present-day Twitterers, Facebookers, and Triberrs no longer recognize?

If you’re reading this, you’re pretty much already in my fraquaintribe. So let’s talk. : )
______________________
*As I pondered the heading for this section, I Googled the word “tribe” for fun. “Tribe hummus” was one of the auto-complete options; it made me gigglesnort, so I kep’ it. ; )

7 Responses to Will You Be My Fracquaintribe?

  1. You echo my (and many people’s probably) sentiment. Virtual friendships dont have degrees, we are all just friends. Is this a problem? I duno…who can tell such things? But so far so good :-)

    Your tribe is very small, you should definitely build your own tribes. We have some users who are in 10+ tribes with reach of over a million. Sweet, juicy traffic :-)

    • Dino, “so far so good,” indeed! I’m likin’ it. : )

      Yes, I know the tribe I’m in is small. I have plans to start building my own soon — I just need to get my new home into a better semblance of order before I take on that project. I do realize “there’s no time like the present”…but I want to be able to work on my tribe(s) without feeling guilty because I’m surrounded by unpacked boxes. ; )

      Thanks so much for dropping by to visit and comment!

  2. [...] I had a finished blog post — but that didn’t feel terribly special. After all, I write 2-3 blog posts per week. [...]

  3. J.J.Brown says:

    All of this makes me feel so naked sometimes. All the walls are see through and all the windows are open too.

    It’s essential that the open view be safe, and we have tools for ensuring this. I do report for spam, I do block sources of excessive vulgarity, I do clean up my page very regularly to keep it clean but interesting.

    At the same time, I’ve met wonderfully creative authors like you Courtney here, and I cherish this. Quite simply, as an author, joining social media (2011, newborn baby dabbler) has changed my life. For the better.

    Thank you for sharing your experience here, it makes me think about how much I’ve learned in the cyber world and value it even more.

    • Jennifer, you are a lady with such a lovely heart! Thank you so much for your sweet words!

      I’ll admit, I still sometimes feel intimidated by the “glass walls” and “open windows.” Making myself vulnerable to others has ever been a challenge to me — and there’s such a higher level of vulnerability needed for building relationships online!

      I agree, though: We definitely have tools to keep healthy boundaries in place. And, as in “real life,” one person’s boundaries will be wider/narrower than another’s. The great thing is that most fellow onliners respect those boundaries and accept their placement with aplomb. That’s been my experience, anyway! : )

      I’m always glad to see you here, Jennifer. Thanks for mentioning “cleaning up”; you remind me that I need to do some tweaking of “old” blog posts. You know — the ones that are 3-6 months old. ; )

  4. virtualDavis says:

    Enjoyed your social friendship rumination, Courtney, and I’ve genuinely enjoyed sharing a tribe with you. (Thanks, Wanda!) I’d actually disagree with you and with Dino about degrees of online friendship. I don’t see the social web as one-dimensional. For example, you arrived in my friend circle “by accident” via Wanda Shapiro and Triberr, but in a relatively short time you’ve evolved from stranger to thoughtful writer. I look forward to your posts. Wanda and I originally connected on Twitter though I no longer remember exactly how. Perhaps through our mutual Twitter-friend Paul Varga? And over the months a genuine friendship has emerged online and IRL. In other words, online friends are real people even if the connections are exclusively/primarily digital. And friendship, in my experience, is rarely static or one dimensional. Hope this makes sense! Thanks again for a thoughtful post. :-)

    • Davis, how very nice to see you here! Thanks for dropping in and for leaving such kind thoughts. I haven’t commented much except via Twitter, but I’m really enjoying your posts about Rosslyn. Your pictures are so lovely — Rosslyn looks like a perfect place to inspire some fantastic creative writing!

      I suspect that you, Dino, and I are expressing much the same viewpoint, just from different angles. I agree that with online friendships, it’s not so much a matter of degree but of the speed of their evolution. And, to tie into the comment exchange between me and J.J. Brown above, I submit that the speed of evolution corresponds directly to the participants’ willingness to be vulnerable.

      Now, I will say that I’ve found this to be more the case on Twitter than on Facebook. I can think of only a handful of my relationships that have changed “status” on Facebook over the course of 4 years — whereas dozens of Twitter relationships might change in some way over the course of just a few days!

      I feel like I’m still too new to see just how all of this relates to Triberr…but my instincts are telling me that Triberr might become to Twitter as Twitter is to Facebook?

      It’s funny how you can’t remember how you originally connected to Wanda. That’s happened to me with several people. I talk to them regularly but simply can’t recall if we were introduced by mutual followers, happened to reply to one another’s tweets, or met in the comment thread of somebody’s blog somewhere out there. It’s weird, because I can remember how I met every one of my “real life” friends. Online, though, those origin stories start to get blurry very quickly!

      Thanks so much for taking time to comment, Davis! I enjoy being in a tribe with you and Wanda and Paul, and I’m looking forward to the evolution of our tribal relationship! : )

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