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About Friction and Life Relationships February 23, 2018

Posted by Peter Varhol in Technology and Culture.
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I’ve written about friction in these pages in the past.  In general, it references the degree of difficulty and thought required to accomplish a particular activity.  The more difficult something is to do, the more friction it entails.

Many so-called technology innovations in recent years have revolved around reducing friction in our lives.  And that’s not by itself bad.  But it does have some unintended consequences.

Take social media networks such as Facebook and to a lesser extent LinkedIn.  It has become enormously easy to connect, or to friend (since when did that become a verb?).  We think that is a great thing; we can always stay connected with the lovely young lady (or gentleman) that we had a fun conversation with at a party last week.

Do you want to know something?  It should be difficult to stay in touch with people from our past.  The friction of doing so causes us to consider carefully who is important in our lives.  If it is as easy to stay in touch with our BFF as it is to stay in touch with someone we met once at a seminar twenty years ago, then we should view that as a serious problem.  But we don’t.  Facebook gives us the curse of not having to prioritize.

Instead, we have five thousand friends, the vast majority of whom we have never met and don’t know.  I have over 900 connections on LinkedIn, and while I have a good memory, I can’t for the life of me remember over half of them.

They are not our friends.  You don’t have five thousand friends.  You may have five hundred friends, if you are especially gregarious and optimistic on how people view you.  You probably have more like twenty friends, and maybe another twenty acquaintances who you deem of enough value to stay in touch with over time (whether or not they feel the same is a different story).

So if someone is important enough to stay in touch with, they are important enough to keep a physical and virtual address.  Not a Facebook friendship; that is nothing but fake.  If they are not, then while they have added to our life experience, they will not do so again in the future.  Deal with it.

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