Is Facebook Changing The Definition of Authentic Friendship?

There is no question that Facebook has changed the way people interact, not to mention how language is interpreted.  Complaints about Facebook's deleterious effect on language are long-standing, of course. In the past, the main gripes have been about how the site has gradually weakened the meaning of the words "friend" and "like." A "friend" has been reduced to any acquaintance you choose to add to your Facebook network -- someone you "friend" (a noun becoming a verb!). Meanwhile, "liking" something has become equated with the manual click of a little thumbs-up icon. Crucially, either of these online interactions can be reversed, by "unfriending" and "unliking".  No long-term commitment is necessary in this realm of ever-shifting allegiances. The question I have is, whatever happened to authentic friendship?  Isn't Facebook changing the definition of a friend?  To us and the elder generation, the word "friend" won't change, but how will a "friend" be defined to our youth when all they are exposed to is "posting" "friending", "liking", "unfriending", and "unliking" via Facebook?

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Comment by Kris King on October 9, 2011 at 12:19pm
I'd also add to John's comments the question, "what makes a friend"?  Friends come and go throughout our lives, sometimes as easily as they do on Facebook, and we all grade them on a scale - as John said, we have friends we hardly ever see, good friends, best friends, occasional friends etc.  I think Facebook more reflects how we already are ...

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