Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Who is a FRIEND?

The Internet and its lingo have created many new words, and also changed the meaning or use of established words. I have heard much lamentation on linguistic deflation, going back to the halcyon days of pre-electronic “interneting.” But what has been happening since the end of the last century is a snowball of changes, which will make this post outdated before it’s even out there.


Some of the new uses of old words are brilliant marketing and not much else. Getting congratulated on having to pay for something you could do without by EBay, telling you you’ve won the race to the top and will pay more than others were willing to, is an interesting way to frame it. Who doesn’t want to be a winner? Soon after, the seller’s feedback bursts apoplectic with feedback that says you’re an A+ and “recommended.” When was the last time you got such a grade and got to have a package of whatever show up in the mail to boot?


Some terms are imaginative and somewhat literary. Trolls, for example, are mischievous trouble-stirrers in Scandinavian mythology. Seems they’ve come back from the deep woods to flood the internet and cause more heartaches than their ancestors ever did. It also seems we’ve all become noisy birds in the Amazonian jungle, whether we are tweeting or making a purchase on the virtual river.



But possibly the most confusing is the use of the word friend on the social network to beat all others.

Confession: I am a participant in all the above, and while I entered reluctantly, I’m happily there now. I have more than a thousand Facebook-friends, and though most asked for my hand, I’ve asked for some and in the end it doesn’t’ matter who initiated.
 My Facebook friends are for the most part kid-lit writers and/or illustrators. We have loads of Facebook-friends in common. I enjoy the illustrators most of all, because it’s a visual medium and I get to see their work when they share it. I also appreciate the trials and triumphs of writers, and the relevant links they share. I look at these Facebook-friendships as a loose professional connection.


A few hundred of my Facebook-friends are people I know in real life. That means we’ve met, and I harbor the possibly illusory notion that they will recognize me on the street. An even smaller number are family or true-blue friends. {Some of my closest friends are not even on Facebook, but that’s another matter.} On that plane, Facebook has been a powerful tool to find people I used to know. I was surprised not only to re-establish some contact, but to discover how much I enjoy seeing their pictorial posts and have the “where are they now” question answered, at least as far a public sharing goes.


For that matter, it’s touching to see how open and vulnerable some are willing to be on this forum. It assumes that most people will not abuse this vulnerability, and this very assumption is a beautiful thing.


The thing is, I know the difference between friends and Facebook-friends. I noticed that when I link a more personal post from my blog to my timeline, any reaction I get comes from the true-blues.




This brings another case of word hijacking: Like or LIKES. I get many requests to like this or that, and you know what? I am a holdout for using these the old way. I will not “like” that way. If I like (or love or wow or L) it’s a spontaneous and real response. I have yet to like on request.

I mean, someone has to stand up for the old ways, ey?



On the soon-to-be eve of the (Jewish) New Year, I’m thinking about the new, and the old, and where I’ve been, where I am, and where I hope to be.


And if you’ve read all the way to this paragraph, I like you. I really LIKE you.


16 comments:

  1. I have many "friends" I've never met. I've also become so friendly with some people online that we've gotten together. I admit that I "like" on command. I guess it's similar to telling Franklin to sit. He sits to please me.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. We are all finding our way to navigate this brave new world.

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  2. You've capture my feelings about the internet as well - thank you, Mirka. Happy surfing! =)

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    1. Surfing and navigating right back to you ;)

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  3. I have some friends online whom I've never met but I talk to every day. They are there for me for support or a good laugh. Those are real friends. I do have others who I don't really talk to at all. Even though FB considers them my "friend" they are more of distant acquaintances I met somewhere along the way.

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    1. You have been a constant friend here, Kelly.

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  4. I'm a slow reader and an even slower writer and admit that trying to keep up with everybody on FB often feels overwhelming to me.

    Your cartoons made me smile. :)

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    1. If I made you smile, my true friend, my day is made.

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  5. Your cartoon choices are hilarious. I'm not on Facebook nearly as much as I used to be, but although I don't have a ton of them, it seems the more 'friends' you have, the longer it takes to find out all that's going on. And yes, there are those close friends who aren't even on FB. In many ways I wish everybody was on there. It almost feels like they're missing out. For example, when everyone in a group starts discussing someone's vacation pictures..what better way to share them than on Facebook.

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    1. Facebook is much more of a professional networking place for me. This is why I added (Author) to my name there. Not for pretentiousness, but to cut down on the personal "are you free for dinner Wednesday?" sort of questions that used to appear on my timeline. For that kind of connection I think Email or a phone call works best. It's private.

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  6. I'm still learning FB. Overall it's been a great way to share family pictures. A happy Rosh Hashanah to you, my friend! The kidlit world is small enough that I think our paths will cross one day.

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    1. I truly hope so, Vijaya. You are a kindred spirit in many ways.

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  7. This was an enjoyable post. I love FB. My husband's family and my family are so scattered (across the country and across different countries) it's one way to keep up. Like you, I have many writer friends on FB; some I've met, and some I haven't — except on FB. Still, it's been lovely to "meet" and connect with many writers I've admired from afar. Still chuckling over the funeral cartoon, though.

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  8. I'm a FB skimmer, but I do use it fairly often for personal communication, lunch dates, etc., and to keep up with people I rarely see in person. And it's sometimes a useful writing resource, too. Great cartoons!

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    1. My kid have a preference for facebook chats to Email. But other than these, all my facebook activities are fully public.

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