Spectrum of Online Relationships: The 12 Degrees of Virtual Friends

I talk a lot about how social networking has changed offline relationships.  Adults often worry about kids opening up too quickly to an online stranger or getting intimate to quickly.  Yet, the truth is, just like in real life we have our own spectrum of online friendship and usually know our boundaries.

12th Degree: Frickin Creepsters
These are the people you block on Gchat, hide your profile from on Facebook and take out of your Twitter feed.  They are creepy, weird and most likely have a blurry picture and a name like “Carnita Slaughterhouse”.

11th Degree: Avoid-Like-the-Plague Guy
These are people who do not warrant a full on block or ‘ignore’ but you just want to avoid any kind of association. You avoid answering their request to be friends, never accept their chat invitations, but don’t have the balls to full on block…I mean they didn’t do anything that weird right?

10th Degree: Can’t-Figure-You-Out User
This is the person online who seems normal, but you just aren’t quite sure.  So, you accept their friendship, have a quick convo with but leave them with limited access to your profile and pretend to “gtg” pretty often.

9th Degree: Mutual-Virtual Acquaintance
You saw you had 8 mutual friends on Facebook, your coworker is following them on Twitter, but you do not really know them.  You knwo you travel in the same online circles and occasionally glance at their updates…maybe they are hanging with one of your peeps?

8th Degree: You-Never-Know-If-You-Might-Run-Into-Them
This is purely for social insurance.  You are friends online, because you see them all the time at so-so’s house, the supermarket, when you go to Indianna on business.

7th Degree: You-Never-Know-If-You-Might-Need-Them

Life insurance.  They look interesting, they are in your industry or know some good people.  You make the virtual handshake just in case you need them.

6th Degree: Niche or Business Contact
These are people you genuinely like.  They are not in your group of offline friends, but you see them at you knitting group or they are a colleague that you want to keep in touch with.  You know friending them was a demonstration of your mutual likability.  You don’t really care what they ate fro breakfast via Twitter, but you will write something lame on their wall for their birthday like, “Happy Birthday, Carl” or “Happy Birthday!” or even “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!”

5th Degree: Awkward-Previous-Romance Person
Lets be real, you keep this person as a friend so you can check out who they are currently hooking up with.  You know, just in case, just because, and just because you are curious…it can’t hurt to just look right? (Who was that blond girl in those pictures from Memorial weekend anyway?)

4th Degree: Awkward-Previous-Online-Romance Person
Ditto to 5th, except you never got to feel any real flesh.

3rd Degree: You-Were-Really-Really-Close-for-5-Minutes-On-That-Trip-Abroad
You kow those people you were really really close with for a short period of time.  Your best friend from elementary school, your group of friends from abroad.  You genuinely wished you could be closer, but geography and time makes it nearly impossible.  Occasionally you send them updates, maybe a poke here and there.

2nd Degree: Real Life Friends
These are the people who get full access, you actually read their updates and news feeds and use the online world to really keep in touch. They are all over your pictures and for some reason you need to remind each other you are friends by wall posts, commenting on each others pictures and sending worthless (except for the person who pays) virtual gifts.

1st Degree: Real Life Boyfriends and Best Friends
These are the people you actually list on your profile. You are engaged/dating/quoting/commenting on their pages and the online world only supplements offline interactions, you know like to post pictures from an actual night out.

I mock, but I have friends/acquaintances and creepsters in all of these degrees.  My fellow gen yers, I hope you found this relatable, for my parent readers, I hope this makes you realize that your child’s relationships online have some of the same offline boundaries and unspoken rules.  Ask them what their degrees are.

This post is dedicated to Greg Cohen, who has been an awesome online and virtual friend, and thank goodness for the web because otherwise I would not be able to keep in touch. Thank you for always thinking of me!

One Response to “Spectrum of Online Relationships: The 12 Degrees of Virtual Friends”

  1. isaac
    February 3, 2010 at 6:01 am #

    i accepted tobe friend with you

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