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Social Networking Currency

March 9, 2009

Facebook is a bit of a weird thing. I got on it back when I was in high school. I’ve seen it go through a multitude of interface changes, and every single one has led to a community protest and eventual submission due to the fact that they are completely addicted to the site in whatever form it may take. The first time I’d ever seen people behind Facebook cave to the community – instead of the other way around – was recently with the User Agreement/copyright fiasco. Unfortunately, no matter which side of the fence you are on, while you are in college, Facebook exists for one thing only:

Social Networking Currency.

“Oh wow you have 600 friends? Awesome! I have 4,000 pictures! You’ve got 82,000 wall posts? Oh my gawd!”

The strangest part is that because of the way Facebook is set up – and it has always been like this – the people you have friended on Facebook, unless they are also friends/relations in real life, really are nothing more than Social Networking Currency. Just little trading cards you sift through on a daily basis. Each card has a name, stats, and a value that you’ve given it based on their number of friends, photos, videos, wall posts, and if you even know them.

In the past couple years, though, Facebook has started to take on whole new purposes than just a place for your friend cards. It’s a hub of games, with applications like Jetman, Parking Wars, Mob Wars, Bitefight, etc. Granted, a lot of the games have as much entertainment value as Email Chess, but I digress. Many people use Facebook for data storage for photos and videos. The space we are allotted for such media on Facebook is unlimited, and therefore it becomes an immediate, free alternative to paid or limited hosting. Sure, we could just as easily upload our videos to Youtube, but then our hundreds of friends wouldn’t get to immediately see our craziness from last night.

But now I am 5 days away from being on my way out of college. Granted, I’m not 5 days from graduation. Wish I were. However,  I have reached the point where – in terms of Facebook at least – I am no longer a college student and need to start taking a more professional approach to who is my “friend” and who isn’t. Granted, LinkedIn is for the actual professional connections and Facebook will always be more “friend” oriented. I do not, however, see the need for trading cards that have no value to me, and that value comes from if you and I have ever actually spoken.

Thus began what I thought would be the “Great Facebook Purge of 2009.” By the time I was done, however, I still had over 400 friends left. I suppose I could be more picky, like if I hadn’t talked to the person in the last year or two instead of in, well, ever, but there is always that lingering problem of going to a high school reunion and somebody being like, “Why did you defriend me on Facebook? I thought we were friends!” and me being like, “Oh yeah, not talking in five years. That’s friendship.” Sorry person, your card lost value. You became the Bidoof of my friends list.

So some cleansing this was. Sure I cleared out about 200 “friends” and 4 years worth of messages, but I still cannot help but ask who are these people? How many of them are actually friends and how many are just there to boost my ego?

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