We might not be friends

The Gist:

  • 1,867 people accounts are connected to me through Buzz, ‘Book, chat and Twitter.
  • I don’t know 1,867 people.
  • Even accounting for 40 percent overlap, I don’t know 1,120.2 people.
  • We might not be friends.

The Whole Story:

Between the killing of time at the Denver International Airport and turning on my phone upon landing safely in Philadelphia last night, I inadvertently direct messaged a few hundred people the promise I could help them “get bigger and have sex longer.”

In the three hours I was in the air, 4 people direct messaged and 15 people replied to me on twitter to alert me to the promises I’d made and suggested perhaps I’d been hacked.

I changed my password and tweeted out a clarification.

Then, I went to my sent direct messages to see who I’d accidentally spammed. After 7 pages, I stopped deleting the messages.
That little episode and a conversation I had with Ben got me thinking.

I did the math. All told, I’m connected to 1,867 accounts through buzz, twitter, Facebook, twitter and chat. Allowing for 40 percent overlap, I’m still connected to 1,120.2 people. I don’t know that many people.

I don’t think I would want to know that many people.

The popularity contest of it all is a little ridiculous as well. What do I think is going to happen if I hit 1,000 followers on twitter? I’m not completely certain, but I know it’ll mean I no longer will be shackled by mortal foibles.

I could be wrong.

Chris has 3,970 followers. I mean, he’s a happy guy, but I don’t think he’s reached Nirvana. The White House is followed by 1,709,139 and that job’s not exactly looking like a walk in the park.

The thing is, I talk on a regular basis with 2 people with whom I attended high school and 3 people with whom I attended college. Maybe 20 people make up the cadre to which I turn for professional and personal support. Throw in the accounts of about 5 neophyte family members. That leads me to 30 accounts. Who are the other 1,827 people accounts?

More to the point, am I a better person / teacher for being connected to them?

As reciprocity’s been big in my mind as of late, are they better for being connected to me?

Or, are we just connected because it’s easy?


7 thoughts on “We might not be friends

  1. I had no idea about the Sex thing. That is pretty funny that it happened yesterday for sure (maybe even funny Ha Ha). Of those people who got your DM’s, those 30 know that you didn’t send it on purpose. It didn’t ruin your relationship with those people because they know it wasn’t you. Of those thousand other people, some may not know that it wasn’t you. I think that might be where the “friend” line is drawn…

    If you let someone else tweet for you for a week, how many people would be able to tell?

    Our identities matter for more than the “digital footprint” that we leave behind. We should want to know people not links, right?

    I’m not sure where I am going with this.

  2. We’re not friends. Which is to say I wouldn’t expect to be invited over to your house, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care about what you have to say. (Ok, maybe I don’t care about your latest workout tweet, but the good stuff- like the tweet to this post- outweighs that.)

    All friends start out as acquaintances, and I have people who I consider friends who began as online “friends” or followers.

    I guess you have to ask, on balance, is does the value I gain from being connected to these people outweigh the noise the connection creates?

    Unlike on Facebook, people following me on Twitter or Buzz don’t seem to cost me anything in terms of attention. They don’t show up in my stream, unless they respond specifically to me. The lack of required reciprocity means those spaces function differently for me than Facebook.


  3. This is a great post. I got one of your DM’s and I knew it wasn’t you… well ok… maybe I thought it was one of your crazier jokes for a second. I do like what you share, I learn about new things and also a little more about you with each post. That’s not such a bad connection, even if we may never be “friends”

  4. i have no answers… only more questions.. especially after reading these last two posts from you here zac and ben’s on unfollowing.
    and meredith – your comment – does the value I gain from being connected to these people outweigh the noise the connection creates?

    i think i keep following people because my goal beyond the ones who are my support system – is connections for my kids. i want to find them expert tutors. but i want to know those tutors first. i mean they’re my kids.

    we should certainly want to know people more than links – but do i model that?

    are people better for being connected to me? don’t know. if a person follows me – i check their profile – and follow them back if i think i have something to offer. people searching for more followers or more money or longer sex – i have nothing to offer them.. so i block them. to me that’s noise.

    like i say.. you three have my head spinning. and i thank you for that. and i curse you for that.

    i do know this.. – the soul of my work is richer because of the honesty i get to soak in here just now.

    and i don’t know you. and you don’t know me. so how is that happening?..

  5. Wait a minute, you mean we’re not friends?
    (Sad trombone playing in background now)

    I like the idea of turning your tweets over to a student or friend for a week, but it can’t be Diana or Ben, they share your wit and humor.
    Great post though, I think we do get caught up in the numbers, is it worth even managing, or do the right people get it?

    I try to get my Dikembe Mutumbo on every now and again, and Twitblock like a man possessed.

    The term “friend” has really changed meaning in recent years, what do we value and what is important, that’s how I define my friends.

  6. I'm sure a great majority of those connections are because it's easy. In fact that describes 90% (at least) of facebook for me. That said, I accept the noise from the easy connections, or those connections that seem easy most of the time, for the absolute wonder that happens on occasion. The tweets that seem to hit me upside the head because they push my thinking are worth a lot of noise for me. (Most of the time, at least.)

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