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Are Online Friends ‘Real’ Friends?

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Are Online Friends ‘Real’ Friends?

If you posted a suicide note to your friends on an online social networking site, would anyone reach out to help? Are online friends ďrealĒ friends?

“Took all my pills be dead soon bye bye everyone.”

That was the final posting of a 42 year-old woman in England who committed suicide. Sadly, the message to her 1,048 Facebook friends went largely ignored, according to an article in USA Today.

Did she have family or friends that she could call directly? Neighbors or co-workers? Was her whole world of connections contained online? Even if some of her Facebook friends were true friends who may have reached out to her, they may have simply missed the posting.

This and other similar incidents are sparking debate about the responsibilities of the social networking sites themselves as well as the dangers of online friendships.

The Ambiguity of Social Networking
Some online networking sites have reporting systems in place so that police can be notified in emergencies. For users, though, knowing someone is in trouble is not always easy.

Whether itís Facebook, Twitter, or any other only social networking site, a large number of our friends or connections may be offline when we update our status. Many will never read our latest note. Even when online, if youíve got hundreds or thousands of friends, youíre going to miss a few things. For some users, social networking is a narcissistic one-way street. Weíve all got connections who only post but never invest time in what other people have to say.

Iím often confused by the status updates of some of my younger Facebook friends. They use language I donít always understand and they like to post popular song lyrics as their status — itís their way of letting the world know they are enjoying a particular song. It is entirely possible that someday I will mistake a cry for help as a song lyric.

The trouble with brief online status updates is the true meaning is often lost in the clutter. Was a message meant seriously, humorously, or sarcastically? Sometimes itís hard to tell.

Next: Are Online Friendships Real Friendships?

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116 comments

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5:24AM PST on Dec 18, 2012

Pressing add doesn't mean they are there to help.

2:29AM PST on Jan 25, 2012

The word "friend" as used on social networks is hazardously confusing. One person with self-censored informations in his profile asks other one with self-censored informations in his profile to be friends? It's ludicrous... and regrettably dangerous, as shown in the article.

12:55AM PST on Dec 10, 2011

Thanks for the article.

10:31PM PST on Dec 9, 2011

Kinda sad also the rude comments people sometimes write on someone fb page after they commit suicide mocking them for killing themselves and being "an hero".

10:07AM PST on Nov 9, 2011

Facebook is funny, people you never expect send you friend requests, sometimes it is hard to take FB seriously.

10:46AM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

It depends on how good the conection is between those people.

10:46AM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

It depends on how good the conection is between those people.

10:52AM PDT on Jul 13, 2011

That is really sad. I really don't know what else to say.

4:17AM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

weird that you would consider someone you never met to be a friend, no wonder people are so lonely

4:39PM PDT on Mar 27, 2011

Very few people are true friends in REAL life what makes you think it is any different on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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