Like many people online I have been bitten by the Facebook bug. Don't get me wrong, I think it is pretty cool being able to catch up with people I haven't seen in years, those I can't get to see physically and the odd random person I've never met but share connections with.
Yet it has me thinking, or maybe just being paranoid, insecure and generally messed up. What is friendship and what does it mean online? I've had online 'friends' or acquaintances for some time via yahoo groups and usenet. Alt.callahans used to be a great time waster but source of comfort and sometimes angst. But what do these friendships mean? Is online community an oxymoron. What do you do when someone you'd rather forget wants to be a Facebook friend (not happened to me yet)? What if you are that sort of person to someone else? Is the rejection to be taken as a serious blow to the ego? I know many people online I haven't asked to be a friend on Facebook, perhaps out of fear they'll knock me back. And do I want them as friends? Am I stamp collecting?
I collect all sorts of things: books, shells, old games, insects, DVDs. Friends aren't a possession to be cataloged but people to be treasured. Can I treasure 100 people online? 200? I'm often surprised when people accept me online - are they being gracious, collecting or what? Only time will tell, and real community, however that is made real.