Making friends outside social media
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - October 7, 2018 - 12:00am

I laughed so hard when I saw this material from a humor website. The title is: “Making Friends Outside Facebook.”

“I am trying to make friends outside of Facebook while applying the same principles. Therefore, every day I walk down the street and tell each passersby  what I  have eaten, how I feel at the moment, what I have done the night before, what I will do later, and with whom.

I give them pictures of my family, my dog, and of me gardening, taking things apart in the garage, watering the lawn, standing in front of landmarks, driving around town, having lunch, and doing what anybody and everybody does everyday.

I also listen to their conversations, give them the “thumbs up” and tell them I like them.

And it works just like Facebook! I already have four people following me: two police officers, a private investigator, and a psychiatrist.”

My Facebook Friends page is full. You probably know that 5,000 is the cap they put on having friends in your Facebook profile. The people who do not know this complain to me and say, “Francis I wanted to add you as a ‘friend’ but I always get declined.” I have to constantly apologize for this inconvenience and then redirect them to my Facebook public page instead, and it allows unlimited number of connections. As of the date of this writing, the number has steadily increased. I’d like to say this without “boasting,” as the intention is not to promote the page but to just express thoughts and views, and over the years, it has grown organically.

As I was thinking about this, a question that is constantly being debated by those who love this platform as well as those who do not is this: “Is it possible to have 5,000 “Friends?”

Facebook was launched in 2004. I was one of the “early adopters.” Fascinated with the platform’s ability to connect with people all over the globe and searched for people I have not seen nor heard for years, I knew it would be big and provide immense benefits. I “be-friended” everyone who requested me, and I offer the same “friend” connection to those who were still trying to figure out what the platform was all about.

This is the reason why my FB “Friends” page is full and at 5,000 it would not allow me to accept more. Good thing they allowed a “Fan” page that eventually was renamed a public page. The connection expanded like crazy and I am able to share thoughts and stuff that reaches out to millions all over the world.

But let us think about this.

The average Facebook user may have hundreds, some may have thousands of friends on Facebook, but for the sake of true friendship’s meaning and worth, it is practically impossible to have that many friends.

Who is a friend anyway? A friend is one who can be with you and be counted on during tough times. According to a study by Oxford University psychology professor Robin Dunbar, he theorizes that people can maintain only about 150 stable relationships. He conducted a study and drilled in the results from 3,375 Facebook users between the ages of 18 and 65 in the U.K. These users had an average of about 150 friends, of which 4.1 were dependable and 13.6 expressed sympathy during an “emotional crisis.” “Respondents who had unusually large networks did not increase the numbers of close friendships they had, but rather added more loosely defined acquaintances into their friendship circle”, as per Dunbar.

And here is a fascinating study. Younger users are likely to have more Facebook friends, but older users tend to have more friends in real life. That is because social media encourages “promiscuous ‘be-friending’ of individuals who often have very tenuous links.”

The study concluded by stating that: “Even though social media provides significant communication opportunities, time is a constraint that limits face-to-face interactions. The lack thereof makes it difficult to invest in a relationship for maintaining an essential level of “emotional intensity.” Even in online environments, focus can be very limited due to the lack of time.

Every chance I get to speak to young people, I always remind them that the connections you have may digitally or electronically not be your “friends,” but are merely your connections. Another thing I remind them is this: “Facebook is a billboard, not a diary.” It is rare that people would express their true realities or situations and have the public see them. But, they usually post bright, shiny, glowing occasions, as well as other things and achievements. These things are not what true friends would do.

We need to lead our children properly by pointing this out. Let them know the difference between what a “connection” and a true friendship is. Perhaps in doing so, we may equip our kids with the ability to discern the real from the virtual and sharpen their thinking process.

There are a lot of leadership lessons I have taught in my lifetime but this one I know is one of the most important ones. And it’s not a virtual principle, I can assure you it is very real.

(Join me in a whole-day learning event this Nov. 10, 2018 entitled “Culture of Personal Excellence” from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the beautiful Santolan Town Plaza in Little Baguio, San Juan. Limited seats available. For further inquiries contact April at +63928-559-1798 or register online at www.successoptionsinc.com/cpe)

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