It's wonderful that we can have so many friends, that we have never met. I'm wondering what do we mean by 'friend'? What is the etiquette for friends?

What does an A|N friend mean to you? Do friends get birthday presents? :-)

There will be as many answers as there are people on A|N. I'm interested in what people have to say.

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Your writing style don't help either. You may not realize it, but your mammoth paragraphs are not eye-friendly, and I'd bet more than a few skip your posts entirely.
I don't mean to pile on, but I'll second that. Larry, I think your posts are interesting, and I always read them, but they are rather dense and hard to read. If you could break them up visually and thematically into paragraphs, it would make it easier.

You can message anyone on their comment page. But email is private, doesn't show up on the comments.
"This is weird" I thought. "Most of these people wouldn't give me the time of day 25 years ago, and suddenly now they want to be my {Facebook} friend."

I'm also on Facebook and sometimes feel like a loser with my mere 40 friends compared to some with hundreds and a couple with over a thousand. But like you say, I think lots of those are high school acquaintances who you'd never give the time of day to.

But I have found Facebook to be a great way to stay up to date with people. Like when I had my motorcycle wreck a few weeks ago - lots of teasing that I'm in the hospital racked with pain yet I can still update everyone on Facebook. ;-) I've also gotten in touch with a couple of people I thought I'd never see again and a couple of my FB friends are people I've only met online in discussion groups and such.

But then there are cases like these...

*tom enters sociologist mode*

The list of functions of "friending" on facebook and on A/N do overlap, but there are, in my view, some differences.

Like the "R U Fucking Kidding Me?" video (great, by the way!) suggests, one main function of friending people on facebook is to gain a more inner access to their personal page and hence stalk them, that is, catch up with them without the actual work -or social discomfort- of talking with them face to face or over the phone. This is a natural urge: we all want to find out how stories unfold, especially among people that played a big (bad or good) part in our lives during some chapter. Hence family reunions, high school class reunions, scanning the obits in the paper for names you recognize, and other behaviors.

This is clearly not a function of friending on A/N, at least as far as can tell.

It is natural for all of us to seek affiliation, that is to say, we are by nature a social species. It is also natural for us to seek affirmation; we like to -and need to- feel good about ourselves (i.e., have a decent amount of self esteem). Our ancestral lines are filled with people who had a good amount of self esteem, those that didn't likely did not become our ancestors; the reality is that in the struggle for sexual partners and survival those with low self esteem tend not to pass on their genes.

Given those assumptions (which I feel can be documented by both old and recent research in evolutionary psychology as well as more mainline anthropology, psychology, sociology, etc.), is seems safe to say that one main function of friending is that we know on some level that this is a "stroke" we can give someone that we know feels good -or at least is affirming as in "you exist, are significant in some way (maybe positive or negative)" to the recipient. We know this because that's how we feel when we get friended both in facebook and A/N.

The massive difference between facebook and A/N friending is, as mentioned above, that in A/N the stalking function is mostly absent: we are not catching up on old affiliations and stories, but rather beginning new ones, however fleeting.

So, what are some functions of friending in A/N? Here we can reach out and "stroke" someone largely (1) without a significant fear of rejection and (2) give affirmation that we suspect might be recipocated.

The main function of friending on A/N is that it adds another level of nuance and complexity to the "community of nontheists" which is A/N. Large communities naturally generate sub-communities (see all of the groups A/N has generated!), and one major category of these sub-communities are friend clusters.

On a personal note, I like the idea of friending -and getting a friend request. It makes me feel even more connected to this community, more affirmed as an atheist, and more connected to not just an amorphous community but to specific people with names, ages, faces, and gardening disabilities ;)

So, all for now. Good morning to everyone! Let's all celebrate this "flash of light between two eternities."

tom *not in sociologist mode* arcaro
Mmm... chocolate covered friend clusters. I prefer mine without nuts.
OK, so I spend all this time on a thoughtful post and the only response I get is
"Mmm... chocolate covered friend clusters. I prefer mine without nuts."

Thanks, I needed that nudge to laugh at myself!
: ( Are you saying my comment was thoughtless? : (

Heh. Tom, I loved your post. You keep on making thoughtful posts, and I'll keep on reading them. I meant to quote you and comment, but that thought went flying out the window with its botherin and cistern, and all I was left with was a chocolate craving.
I finally got to listen to the song. What a hoot!
Anybody know what happened to Stephen?
"This is weird" I thought. "Most of these people wouldn't give me the time of day 25 years ago, and suddenly now they want to be my friend."

I deleted my SitOnMyFacebook account because people I actually am friends with (or used to be) would tell me they didn't have time to write, call, or visit, and yet they'd be spending inordinate amounts of time taking quizzes, poking each other, etc... An old friend from 20+ years ago was ever so excited to re-connect with me, and then... he suddenly stopped writing. I asked if something was going on in his life. Heard nothing.

A few months later, I checked out his MySpace profile. He had been busy having with constant cleavage.

I I found Facebook and MySpace to be very alienating. I'm hoping to make new friends on A|N, people I can actually socialize with in the flesh.
Yeah, I don't really get the people who must be spending 24/7 playing Mafia wars and feeding their own egos with useless quizzes.

But as I tend to be spread far apart from most of my family and peers I've found it a good way to keep in touch. Most of my friends are fellow geeks and nerds I've met through online fandom. Plus I'm much better at writing back and forth than holding a phone conversation.

(Not that I don't appreciate the occasional phone call from a friend ... especially when I'm recovering!)





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