Social networks are redefining what a friend or a relationship really is

This is a post where I am right but so is Brian…

So yesterday I was talking via Twitter with Brian Dresher, the manager of  social media at USA Today. The discussion brought on by this tweet/thought:

Brian followed that thought up with mentioning that “following” someone pre-Twitter meant something more akin to stalking than it did to something more related to complimentary. You got that right.

There was a bit more to the conversation but here’s the point that I want to get across- and I’m fairly certain that you would agree with me. If you don’t, that’s OK, these thoughts are my own.

Like it or not, Social networking is redefining terms of “social endearment.”

It’s forever changing the etymology of commonly used words; and I would say easily within a few years it will completely alter their understanding and perception as younger generations continue to evolve as digitals’  new natives.

Here are the prime and most glaring examples.

  • Friend-Means absolutely nothing anymore. All it means is that we have allowed the other into our networks, or vice-versa. Soon we will have to qualify what kind of friend you or they actually are.
  • Follow-At its core, to follow would mean to come or go after; proceed behind; go in a straight or obvious course. There is nothing in the social networking world that resembles that definition. But as it stands now, if I were to tell you that I follow him or her-there still might be a pregnant pause. That too will soon change.
  • Like-I don’t even know where to begin.
  • Relationship-the definition of the relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship would seem to closely align itself with today’s social networks. However, some now think that relationships can be built on the thinnest of determinants. Which lead to this next tweet from me:

It took Brian’s next tweet to add the proper context to all of this.

He’s right. I didn’t know Brian before all this social networking “stuff” started and now we have a casual business relationship because of it. It has become enhanced because of it. We have met and talked at a conference, and later this summer he is going to host a Social Media Tweetchat for us. Thanks to the power of social networks.

Is there a fallout to all of this? No not really. We’re just adding layers to the complexity that is online communication.  In order to get to or take a relationship to the next level, They’ll still have to be consummated at some point offline. Right? Maybe not? Maybe these new layers allow for less physical/face to face interactions?

Maybe not.

*I know there were a ton of other “social” words that don’t mean the same thing as they used to that I did not mention. I’ll leave that up to you guys. Anyone want to start a wiki?