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Redefining the word 'Friend' in the Social Media Age
By: Greg Miller
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This article initially was going to explore how the definition of the word "friend" has changed in the social media age. The plan was to start this article with a definition of the word with Dictionary.com being the source. From there, I would explore the history of friendship. But upon visiting the Dictionary.com site, something caught my attention. Something that just a couple of years ago probably didn't exist.

There are six definitions of the word "friend" on Dictionary.com:

1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter.
3. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile.
4. a member of the same nation, party, etc
5. a member of the Religious Society of Friends; a Quaker

These all seem to be what one would expect. But it's when you get to definition number six that things get interesting. It makes the title of this article (which was conceived prior to looking up the definition) even more poignant.

6. a person associated with another as a contact on a social-networking Web site.

With this being an official definition, it somewhat changed the dynamic of what this article would have turned out to be.

So I guess the real question becomes, what is a friend? In this social media age, has what a friend is changed? There are a lot of people who would not classify their 300+ Facebook friends as "real friends." A lot of those “friends” we probably never see and/or haven’t seen in some time. And if it were not for social networking, most of them would simply be an afterthought.

But when you examine the definitions provided above, Facebook friends seem to fit the classifications.

- A lot of them provide support and assistance whenever their friends post issues they’re having.
- If you’re friends on Facebook, then you’re usually on good terms with that person and if any of them ever did become hostile, you would simply un-friend them.
- If you’re on Facebook, then you’re all part of a nation, a community of sorts.

So what is a friend? Is Dictionary.com wrong in how they define the word friend? What about Oxford? The second definition listed on Oxforddictionaries.com site for "friend" is the following:

2. a contact on a social networking site.

So was Facebook on to something when they started using the word "friend" to describe the relationships on the site? (By the way, "friend" is also a verb, meaning "to add a person to one’s list of contacts on a social-networking Web site.") Is this how friendships will be defined going forward? Dictionary.com seems to think so, and surely Facebook believes so.

What about you?

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About the Author
Greg Miller is an IT Support Pro, digital evolutionist, NBA fanatic, and the founder\editor of LifeAppolution where you can learn to get more from life one app at a time. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @LifeAppolution.
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