Jay Baer just beat me to it. In his case this article seems to have been inspired by the tragedy of a suicide of an online friend.
I’ve blogged on this topic before – the misuse of the word ‘friend’ by social networks such as facebook.
Friendship takes time and lots more. They develop out of all sorts of situations but they take time. The trust in a friendship is not built online. It requires real socialisation – being with people in different situations. Some friendships last through rows, disappointments, whatever; other friendships dissolve. And then retrospectively we questions whether it was in fact a friendship.
Baer touches on another interesting point – the self censorship that we exercise in online communities – because the ‘friends’ are not all friends. And a downside of this is that the communication does not server to promote/ reinforce friendships as a result.
Initially many of used Facebook got friends and blogging, LinkedIn and even twitter for business. That has since changed radically – a network of 700m+ people (Facebook) is too big to be ignored for potential business advantage.
Baer says that he is going to make a real effort – even at the cost of less online contributions. I think he is right.