Not too many moons ago, Burger King held a contest on their official website.
If you “unfriended” ten people on your friend’s list via Facebook, you would get a free Whopper sandwich.
It almost sounds a little weird, right? Why would Burger King care if you have ten friends less?
In the end, what resulted was probably what BK was secretly hoping for: you struggling with that internal dilemma of whether or not your friends were worth more than free food.
Naturally, you could have easily unfriended ten people and added them shortly after receiving your prize, but with that comes the natural embarrassment of having to make it clear to ten people that you were willing to drop them from your social networking experience for a short while, all for the sake of meaty goodness.
Burger King had to suspend the promotion after a lot of complaints, but the lesson remains clear:
Are we obsessed with our online friend lists?
Back in the day, when MySpace was all the rage, it would become solely your mission to have more friends than your friends. Whoever had the most at any given time was declared, unofficially, the coolest guy ever?
That’s the general idea, but then the question digs a little deeper:
What possess us to collect “friends” like baseball cards?
What does it say about our online interaction with each other that numbers play any part whatsoever?
Basically, what it boils down to is our incessant need to rack up points.
Your friends are your friends, but your Friends, with a capital F, are your points.
The only way of obtaining these points is by socially interacting with currently non-Friends and making them your Friend.
Do you have to take any extra effort toward making them your actual friend, lowercase F? No, not necessarily. Remember to say hello to them on their birthday once a year and you’ll more than likely stay on their list.
Yes, you do have to interact with them routinely.
There are people who actually go through their Friend list and determine who they can take out. As if they can only have a certain number of Friends. These people will go through their list and stack each other up. “Oh, I haven’t talked to John in awhile. I might as well Unfriend him.”
The people who operate their social networking like that are just as bad as the people who stack up Friends for points.
Why? Because we’re no longer looking at these people as human beings, just because their face is solely on our monitor rather than right in front of us.
If you saw John in the grocery store and you realized you haven’t seen him in months, would you tell him, “Oh, goodbye John. No time for chit-chat, I haven’t spoken to you in months.” No. You’d be friendly and cordial. And on the other hand, would you ever make friends with somebody and only ever talk to them on their birthday, just so you can tell everybody else you’ve got a certain amount of friends? No. Hopefully not.
Treat people online like you treat them in person. Be kind, interact as often as you would in person, and even offer to meet up in town one week. Because friends are friends, and Friends should be too.