The Vocabulary

The Vocabulary

Facebook Basics

Facebook Friends. Once you create a page for yourself or business on Facebook, you can accept or send electronic “friend” requests for people to join your personal network, making your page feel like your own club. Once accepted, you’re Facebook friends. You can keep tabs on people in your network, send messages and become friends of friends. An upside: People who have Facebook friends and face-to-face contact with them are less lonely. “It lowers loneliness and depression,” says John T. Cacioppo, director of the University of Chicago’s Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience. But if you have 4,000 friends on Facebook and you don’t interact with them, instead hiding behind your computer and monitoring via Facebook what everybody’s doing, “that puts you at risk for greater loneliness and depression,” he says. The average user has 130 friends, Facebook says.

“We’re Facebook Friends.” This phrase connotes a lesser friendship than a traditional friend. It could mean “you’re a businessperson I really like and I’m willing to let you see some of my personal life or it could mean that you’re someone from my past who somehow tracked me down,” explains Andy Smith, co-author of The Dragonfly Effect. “Facebook has fundamentally changed what we define a friend and what we define being in touch as.” After all, “it makes staying in touch with people from your past dead simple…. It’s very easy for you to imagine that there are 1,000 people in your life that you’ve gone to school with, that you’ve worked with, or whatever, who might ‘friend’ you.” But you can’t maintain 1,000 friendships in a normal sense, so new norms develop.

“Facebook me.” It’s a verb. It means: Contact me via Facebook.

Commit Facebook suicide. It means canceling a Facebook account. Stephanie Painter did it, as described to The Times of London, after what had seemed like an innocent way of reconnecting with old friends and colleagues caused trouble: “Within a couple of months a number of ex-partners and people that I’d had random flings with were asking to be my ‘friend’ in Facebook. I didn’t feel I could decline them and I admit I was intrigued by what they were up to. But not only did that ignite unwanted feelings in me, it also made my boyfriend incredibly insecure.”

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