Friendship is Dying, Social is Not


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This presentation focuses on the evolution of friendships online from personal connection to depersonalized "social contact", and how new modes of online friendship and communication are becoming targeted ad platforms.

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  • Because of digital and social media, the definition of friendship has evolved. Wheras once friendship entailed shared real time experience, in today’s online world the word “friend” has become a catch-call for many different things. If it’s true we can only connect with 150 friends, why do we have so many “friends”?\n
  • Online, there are “traditional” friendships, which one can see translated from “offline”. These are people we actually know and interact with on a regular basis in real life, and have a certain level of trust in. From there, we have a whole range of relationship depth, all the way to being “friends” with people we’ve never met. \n
  • Online friendship is better described as a spectrum, where the connection between different people depends on the platforms they use. Meaning: there are different levels and depths of friendship, just like in real life, though online friends are perhaps more inclined to be less connected to each other deeply. \n
  • In a way, because of the ease of making friends and connecting with people online, less value is being placed in each relationship. Sometimes, especially on networks where friending strangers is the norm, people can value the number of friends they have over the depth of their relationships.\n
  • The value of friendship based on sheer numbers often boils down to the concept of social influence, and how you want to be seen online. If you seem to have many friends, regardless of the depth of your friendship, you are seen as having a certain cache, value, or influence. \n
  • Social influence is quickly becoming the internet equivalent of being in the “cool crowd”. If you put personal value in having lots of superficial friends online for appearance sake, this appearance becomes tied to an identity as a social influencer. But is this a problem?\n
  • Having an identity as a social influencer is quickly becoming something to strive for, not exclusively because of the power of the personal brand. The more social influence an individual has, the more successful they can be in promoting themselves and others online. Is this what’s driving a devaluation in personal friendship online?\n
  • However, social influence and brand power brings up many issues of trust. Motivations for adding friends for influential purposes may be less than noble, but what messages are being promoted by social influencers, and why? What personal information is being shared in the quest for influence, and who gets it?\n
  • Our expectations of trust differs based on social networking platforms. What you reveal to personal friends on Facebook is entirely different from what you would say to a follower on Twitter. Yet, social influence is now being used as a platform to promote services and companies, to your personal friends and followers alike. \n
  • Take Foursquare, for example. The geo-locational service connects friends to businesses by their “Check-Ins”, acting as a promotional tool for businesses based on your friendship. Facebook has also recently rolled out “promotional stories”, where friends’ check-in to different businesses appear as a promoted “personal” story. \n
  • Are these companies betraying our trust by using our concept of online friendship (i.e. sharing our lives) to promote their products and companies, or are we aware of it by opting in to these services, often for fun? Are online friendship platforms becoming a type of targeted ad services?\n
  • Social influence, and the potential money making it entails, has brought up all sorts of issues to consider. There are services, in particular uSocial, which sell sets of “authentic” friends, the aim of which is to increase the appearance of your social influence, brand power, and potential for ad revenue. \n
  • In addition, reports claim that only 47% of people have trust in the opinion of “people like themselves”, placing much more value in the opinion of those they identify as “social influencers”, aka those identified as having many online friendships, which lends a sense of credibility, deserved or not. \n
  • Thus, trust online moves away from those we see as “friends”, and towards those we deems as “experts”, determined by their social influence. Is it problematic that these experts could be buying their influence? Yes, but individuals for the most part trust that that’s not the case, wise or not. \n
  • Are we witnessing a betrayal of friendship? Are companies and individuals so interested in what having lots of friends can do to their influence and credibility that they’ve forgotten why social networking began, or what the word “friend” actually means in the real world, not online?\n
  • Our expectations of online friendship have changed. Where initially social networking was about you connecting with others online on a very personal level, increasingly it is moving towards a place where we share less personal information about ourselves as our network of friends increases. becoming more social, but less personable. \n
  • The move away from the personal and towards the influential and social has inspired new niche social networking sites to emerge, attempting to recapture our sense of personal friendship. The new site, Path (for example), limits yours friends to 50, practically ensuring your network consists only of people you know. \n
  • In the end, we will still use social networks to connect with people we know, and people we don’t, on a platform based basis. The term “friend” is here to stay. However, perhaps as we become more social, we should recognize that a better term for how we relate to each other online is “contact” It is called social “networking” for a reason. \n
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  • Friendship is Dying, Social is Not

    1. 1. FRIENDSHIP IS DYING - SOCIAL IS NOT Hayley V Fuller image cred: perhydrol
    2. 2. FRIENDSHIP AS A CATCH-ALL image cred: acknacer
    3. 3. TYPES OF “FRIENDS” image cred: milk & kisses
    4. 4. LAYERS OF FRIENDSHIP image cred: perhydrol
    5. 5. NUMBERS > DEPTH image cred: maggie jones.
    6. 6. SOCIAL INFLUENCE image cred: perhydrol
    7. 7. INFLUENCE AS IDENTITY image cred: lou1003
    8. 8. IDENTITY AS BRAND POWER image cred: yushimoto_02
    9. 9. TRUST IN “FRIENDSHIP” image cred: Dusiowa
    10. 10. EXPECTATIONS OF TRUST image cred: FredericaPC
    11. 11. TRUST,“FRIENDS”,AND ADS image cred: dan [durango99]
    12. 12. SOCIAL INFLUENCE MONETIZED image cred: s4aints
    13. 13. BUYING FRIENDSHIP & TRUST image cred: Mizan’s Art Gallery
    14. 14. DEVALUATION OF “FRIENDS” image cred: Jenna Carver
    15. 15. TRUST IN “EXPERTS” image cred: Tada’s Revolution
    16. 16. BETRAYAL OF FRIENDSHIP? image cred: igor termenon
    17. 17. EXPECTATIONS OF “FRIENDSHIP” image cred: Javier de Garcia
    18. 18. “REFRIENDING” MOVEMENT image cred: Mr. Flibble
    19. 19. LET’S CALL THEM CONTACTS image cred: Normand Dejardins
    20. 20. CREDITS/SOURCES• Images provided from flickr users under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial License 3.0• Online Social Networks: Trust Not Included.• In Age of Friending, Consumers Trust Their Friends Less. http://• Your Brain Can’t Handle Your “Friends”.• Friends for Sale: This Time it’s not a Game. 3mrZh• Facebook Turns Friend Activity Into New Ad Format. http://• Is a Social Media Friend Really a Friend?• Behind the Digital Mask.• Facebook is Dying, Social is Not.• Devaluation in Friends, Trust in Experts. image cred: realeoni