Essay on Social Networking and Friendship

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Akst states, “Today ‘friends’ are everywhere in our culture-the average Facebook user has 130-and friendship, of a diluted kind, is our most characteristic relationship: voluntary, flexible, a ‘lite’ alternative to the caloric meshugaas of family life” (Akst 25). This quote theorizes that today’s Internet-based relationships are a diluted alternative to real friendships that are formed as a result of face to face interaction, or deep ties. The metaphor of low calorie “lite” food and the bland friendships we experience over the internet is used to emphasize the difference between these two types of friendships, as light foods are considered flavorless imitations of the original. This is the comparison Akst wishes to make between friends online and face to face relationships. Friends on Facebook have the ability to comment on people’s statuses, have their statuses commented on, and use the chat function for one on one interaction, but these features are rarely used unless individuals are friends outside of Facebook. Friends in real life on the other hand, are seen fairly regularly and their relationship is built on trust and affection that is fostered by face to face interaction. Yet while the Internet has changed, and perhaps diluted, the meaning of friendship by conditioning people to accept this “lite” alternative to friendship, it provides an invaluable resource for information, interaction, and maintenance of close friendships which complicates the idea
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