Its more than that.
Facebook brought practical meaning to friendships.
I’ve been playing around with Facebook’s applications. Facebook emphasizes the role of friends interaction in its basic friends features (wall, feeds, notes, networks etc.). It offers about 30 more applications relevant to users friends (friends stats, tracking, photos, fans, analyzers) – all provide extended meaning to having friends. This is a need MySpace hasn’t dealt with.
While the internet has brought us to acquire new concepts of interactions, I think we have a lot to learn (re-learn) from the concept of friends in the real world. Taking it back few years, before claiming a person as our friend, we used to have some prior interactions where we studied him carefully (face to face interaction made it easy because we had many cues, instincts and heuristics to rely upon), we learned this person preferences, ideals and environment. We had the time to watch and observe this person react to different situations and to different people. Having so much information in aid we were able to consider this person as a potential friend. That was only the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
Time and shared experiences lead us to strengthen the friendship. We, mostly unconsciously, constantly re-evaluated our friendships and reciprocated “outputs” according to our perception of received inputs.
Nowadays, we join platforms to allow us shortcuts to friendships. All we are expected to do is to click on “add to friends” or “accept friend” button, and here we are – best friends ever. While this phenomenon needs yet to be fully investigated by psychologists – I wish to focus on the features I believe to be important to this instant friendship mechanism. Social network platforms must consider our need to observe our friends and replace the “time and experience” part. They must always keep in mind how human interacted for so many years.
Out of the understanding that the friendship process hasn’t come to an end by pressing “add/accept” buttons, I have written the “10 tools to make meaningful (instant) friends”
1. Sort my friends according to the frequency of interactions we have (best-good-remote friends). This would be a great key to identify friends I neglected, and a cue for future selection of my – so many – friends.
2. Notify me if I have friends I haven’t yet contacted, or friends I haven’t contacted for a long time.
3. Show me my friends not only according to our similar interests, networks and friends, but also by events we attend (will you be making it to Burning Man?), the new restaurant we discovered, the blog we most frequently read, etc.
(As in wedding presents – when you wish to remember what you received from a friend to better adjust the wedding gift you are about to give.)
4. Sort friends according to their friends-making achievements over time (indication of influencers)
5. Remind me who initiated this friendship (I feel more obligated to friends I have added).
6. Provide tools to personally sort friends according to relevant parameters (work, blog, school mates, family). Next steps (1)– personal algorithm: let the user decide on weights of meaningful parameters (2) Users should decide whether information can be transmitted from one group to another.
7. Provide the option to notify new friends of their serial numbers (you are about to be Taly’s 23 rd friend). Great for ego maniacs…
8. As good friends often do – allow the option for friends to recommend their friends to me and provide me with the reason why I should meet them (here you have a great viral effect!).
9. Tell me who of my friends has commented in my blog (the one outside the network), added me to his bookmarks etc.
10. For the “time and experience” – provide me with tools to involve my friends in organized interactions in the form of group games (from free associations on chosen topics, to chess tournaments in gaming rooms). This will bring to new concepts where friends will be turning into intra- networks.
More suggestions to the art of instant friends-making?