Friends vs Acquaintances

An interesting topic was brought up on a recent episode of the 7DAG podcast. Jason, Jeremy, and Grant were having a conversation with Neil & Annaleis of the Dark Angels & Pretty Freaks podcast (they were guests on the episode as part of the 30 days of podcasting). Grant poses a question to Neil & Annaleis: Have you had the situation where someone has gone through and listened to all your shows, this is not someone you know, and they communicate with you in a way that it’s weird because they feel like they know you?

Now, I’m paraphrasing here, it wasn’t that exact question word for word, but it’s late and I’m tired. Basically, the question was meant to get their opinions on how fans of the show interact with them and whether they felt it was on a level where the fans treated them like they were friends with the hosts because they had heard so much about them in their podcast episodes. Neil explained that they have had experienced with this type of communication and while it was a bit weird at the beginning because it was new to them, Neil expressed that he found it cool that people would reach out to them and quote things from the show or about how they have things in common like having the same dog or relating to a certain situation. He didn’t mind.

The topic seemed finished at that point, until Jason and Grant get into a conversation that sparked this post, the topic of Friends vs Acquaintances in regards to people meeting through social media. Neil set the ball in motion when he mentioned how great it was to discover all these other indie podcasts, when he started their podcast. Where he could really relate with the hosts because they were like him–they weren’t celebrities with podcasts. He went on to say that through podcasting and starting to listen to these other indie podcast, he started to hear from and communicate with some really cool people on Twitter. People he felt like were really similar: in taste, personality, sense of humor, etc. He could really see himself hanging out with these people outside of the social media world because he has come to see these people as his friends. Maybe not in the way as a friend you would ask favors from, like helping you to hang doors or something. But still friends that he could have real conversations with.

From there Jason tries to make a point of bringing up the arguments (by which I mean discussions, not fisticuffs) that he and Grant have had regarding the subject of regarding people on Twitter as your friends. Grant had the following stance on the topic: You don’t know these people, you can’t call them your friends. Jason didn’t agree and that he could call them his friends because he did know them to a certain extent and did talk to them on a regular basis. They then have an argument about how that was not what the previous argument was about. Do you see why I enjoy listening to the show now?

Grant makes the point that the actual argument had been the difference between calling someone a friend or calling someone an acquaintance and how those two differed to him. Grant goes on to say, you can be friendly with people but that generally meant those people were acquaintances: people you know, people you get along with, people you enjoy. His definition of a “true friend” as he calls it is: that person you can call in the dead of night and they will be there no matter what. He explains that he doesn’t necessarily mean that a friend is only someone who does something for you,but someone who you have interaction with outside of just Twitter. He uses Neil & Annaleis as an example. He started out conversing with them on Twitter but then they had Grant as a guest on their podcast so he spent four hours talking to them on what was basically a phone call, in podcast form. He got to know them more that way. He doesn’t think that you can be friends with someone on Twitter and actually form a connection with that person when it’s simply based on 140 character conversations.

At this point, Annaleis supplies the comic relief by saying they haven’t been drinking and it was getting a little deep–cue the laughter. Neil adds, that for him Twitter has opened the doors to establish friendships but he needed some other form of communication with the person: Skype, phone text, email. He may use the term friend to describe the person, but it would be meant in the acquaintance sort of way.

So, the point being, Jason and Grant had opposite view points on how they thought about people they talk to on Twitter. This has been a topic that has interested me for quite some time. Mainly for the reason that I have friends (met on Twitter) that I have never met in person, and I have no issue calling them my friends. I also have friends that had it not been for Twitter, I would have never met in person and enjoy their company so much. I agree with points made by both Jason and Grant. In both cases, my communication with my Twitter found friends has evolved to outside of twitter. For me, that’s a good basis for determining whether someone is your friend or just an acquaintance. If you’ve met in person, or if not in person (because they live in a different country) at least in some other way besides one facet of social media.

I talk with friends in the UK everyday and hope to meet them all some day, a couple sooner than that (next year). We text and email. Another determining factor: we know so much about each other. I know about their families, what they do for work, their likes, their dislikes. We exchange gifts for birthdays and Christmas cards. But most importantly, there’s support and compassion. I can tell these women anything and vice versa, without feeling embarrassed ¬†or insecure. My friendship with each and every one of them means a great deal me.

Very similar to Neil’s point, there are so many people I have met on Twitter, that are really cool people and I can imagine that were we to meet we would get along famously. I call them my friends, but it’s as acquaintances and I’m sure they would say the same thing about me. It’s because I don’t know as much about them and our contact is limited to Twitter or is not as consistent. Do I enjoy “making friends” on Twitter and chatting with people from all over the country and world? You bet. But it’s not my goal to try and meet every single one of my Twitter followers and become best friends with them. I’ve been fortunate to have gained the friends I do have, but I’m not looking to be uber popular and be known by everyone.

I’ve always been someone who could make friends easily, I’ve always thought I’m personable, kind and a good listener. But just because we both like the same TV show, does not mean you will automatically be my friend to the point where I’ll share all my secrets with you. That type of trust has to be earned. One person may earn that trust faster than another. It can depend. It’s not meant to be an exact science, it boils down to the ability to form a bond with someone. You learn how to make friends, through trial and error, from an early age. Playground or social media, you’re calling it something different, but the same basic principles apply and you have to determine whether someone could or should be your friend.

Social media has certainly had a hand in changing the way people interact with each other. Communication is instantaneous and while limited in some cases (i.e. character limits on Twitter) you can share just about anything with anyone. On one hand, it’s made things easier, but on the other we’ve lost that personable quality. Gone are the days of pen pals through snail mail, long distance phone conversations replaced by texting and email. At least with email and texting, you still get that sense of privacy, you’re having a conversation with a single person. Everything on social media is public, it’s out there and will be until you delete it. But the good thing about social media, if you do want instant feedback on an opinion or a topic, your new shoes or t-shirt, you’re going to get it. Whether it’s negative or positive, you just have to deal with, it’s part of it. I use social media to interact with fans of the TV shows I like and to share information about those shows or other things that I like. As of late, I’ve starter using it as a conduit for my writing. Social media is a good way for people to get noticed for their skills or work, you can reach such a huge audience. But of course, that also means over-saturation, sometimes you just get drowned out by everyone else all trying to do the same thing. You just have to keep plugging away at it, until you get lucky.

Now I’m not in any way trying to promote my writing. It’s just something that I enjoy doing, but I also like seeing how people react to it and get feedback on it. Thanks to social media, this very blog is now featured on a website. If you would have told me that when I started this blog, I would have never believed you. It wasn’t something I was actively thinking about, but when the opportunity arose, I thought why not. Heck, I don’t even think I’m that good. But, we’re always our own worst critics. I feel like I’ve sort of gone off on a tangent towards the end here. Probably due to the fact that it’s after 1:00am and I should have stopped so long ago. But hey, I felt this was a great topic to write about and I didn’t want to forget. Plus, I didn’t want too much time to pass between the episode I’m referencing and this post. How awkward would that be? Another episode would post and people might get confused. Or I’m just way over thinking this. Lack of sleep, yeah.

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