Public Service Announcement:

If you know Facebook is bad for society and you’re only on their because your ‘friends’ are, take a minute to reassess your definition of friends.

Have you ever met these people? Did you seen them recently? If not, they’re not your friends. Not really. And they probably don’t think of you as one either. Not really. They wouldn’t give your absence a second thought or even notice you were gone.


Friends are people in your life, not people on the other side of the world who know how to use social media and happen to like the same poetry. Friends make social media pointless. They get together in person on a fairly regular basis. They hug and shake hands. They laugh (or gag) when the other one farts. Friends meet you at the café in 30 minutes, or pick you up from the doctor when you can’t make it home.


Friends are a channel that isn’t recorded and manipulated by corporate interests. They’re whispers in the corner that no one else can hear, whose breath you can feel.

So if you need to use social media because your ‘work’ requires it, then say that (and question the validity of that too). But don’t fool yourself about who real friends are. Real friends don’t need social media or stay on it for false reasons, especially when FB is impacting society in so many bad ways.

Addendum: There’s been some concern I’m disparaging the value of online relationships, and notably for those people who do not have the freedom or convenience of mobility. I certainly acknowledge that disabilities can influence the kind of value one puts on remote relationships. The argument I was making, however, was aimed at those who find excuses for remaining on Facebook. Friends do not let friends use Facebook. Anything else is a different (and equally questionable) reason for staying on.

i don't disagree that facebook is a hellsite but this is a bad take on what friendship means

i do have friends across the world, they're people i talk to every day & share my life with. some i used to know irl, some of them i met online. i have friends that i met in person for the first time at my wedding, & they absolutely deserved to be there

by all means drop shallow friendships & delete facebook but let's not pretend honest, real friendship can't happen online


I’m not pretending. And I don’t believe it can. If you feel differently, fine, but perhaps friendships mean different things to different people.

@wion I happen to be familiar with some disabled people whose friends are all online because that's the only way they *can* make friends, because they can't talk, or they physically can't leave their house

Consider the likelihood that your words will be read by such a person, and what effect they will have


There’s no other way to have such friendships than by Facebook? This is the real point.

@wion then say that, instead of denigrating online friendships


I did. Maybe you should start at the top of the thread before jumping in.

@wion I read the whole thread

I think the words that you actually wrote are most plausibly read as denigrating online friendships

Consider this as the sort of critique you get in a writer's workshop


That doesn’t mean I don’t ‘meet’ people online and might like to meet them over time. But until we do ever meet and establish something in person, it’s never going to be a friendship, not in my world. Mileage will vary, I guess.

Anyway, my point wasn’t to argue what merits friendship so much as making people consider their sole excuses for remaining on shitty platforms.

yeah i completely get that most facebook "friendships" aren't substantial, but the meeting in person irl requirement rubs me the wrong way for honestly pretty similar reasons. to me, someone i hang out with in person a couple times a week because they happen to live nearby and not suck is less of a friend than someone i talk to every day

@wion I’m afraid I’m with the other folks I am seeing in the replies: this take is weirdly regressive for 2019. I have people I’ve known only online for two decades who are among the first to check in with me when it’s clear my anxiety or depression is spiking. I have people I’ve known both online and off but mostly online for the past decade who offer help and support. These are not somehow less real because online, be it FB or otherwise.

@wion That companies like Facebook might be *exploiting* these real connections between people does not somehow inherently negate the value of those connections. Greed exploits all kinds of good, but it doesn’t automatically or inherently erase the good it’s exploiting.


I’m not negating ‘online relationships’. I have many too. I’m in a community elsewhere where I’ve been exchanging with the same great people for 15 years; only met two once at a bar while passing through London for a conference. Wonderful time. But these are nevertheless very superficial acquaintanceships compared the one or two close ‘friends’ I’ve known personally for 25+ years. Not all relationships are equal. From my experience, I’m not wrong in saying that.


But this fixation on what constitutes friends or not is a distraction from my real point. Whether you use ‘friends’ or ‘acquaintances’ is irrelevant. They are not a good reason to remain on Facebook if that is the only reason you’re giving. Use m’don instead, for example.

I disagree with this model of friendship. There are a number of people I met in real life, connected with on Facebook, grew closer over years, and hung out again in real life because of the continued connection. They are friends.

Online relationships are relationships!

The issue with Facebook is that your IRL friends are also on it. This is why it became so popular. Twitter is a bit different on this. So it is kinda a bad example. Also I don't really agree that you can not have real friendship online, because I think you can. The different "friendships" do play different part in your life though.

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