So-called Friends - or "Join Facebook, learn about exotic, distant lands; befriend exciting, unusual people and SPAM them with Malware. *"
When M. was in pre-school everybody in Blue Room was a "friend". She went to the park with her little friends and played with them. Some of them actually became friends. In public middle school she has a few friends from elementary school - other students tell her she has no place in this school because of her skin color - she's white (well actually pink).
When I was 12, the hairdresser in my school in Vienna - yes the Theresianum had an in-house hairdresser - told me that you have one real friend in life - maybe two. This seems to have made a big impression on me as I vividly remember the setting. That was long before online friends were invented and before everybody was openly more or less gay - and in addition due to the fact that German actually is a language with a grammar - it was relatively easy to distinguish if you like someone or "really like" someone as my now 12-year-old would put it - referring to romantic entanglements (which just like "graphic" or "adult" is just another helpless circumscription to find out do you have sex with each other?)
Revenons à nos moutons: Today I received two friend requests on Facebook from two very different people - a young good-looking lady and a dapper gentleman connected me with a friend request. They had two things in common: I had never heard of them, they each had 32 "friends" none of which were mutual and their profile was completely empty. Why would they ask "do you want to be my friend?" - something that is awkward after the age of seven anyway. LinkedIn is somewhat cleaner as it asks to "connect", yet also has its fair share of undesirable connections from aggressive marketers to outright scam artists. In a society where more and bigger is better does it get you bragging rights to have 15,000+ LinkedIn connections?
Or is this a rampant misuse of a social network turned MLM platform? There are discussions about Superconnectors and LIONs - "open networkers" ready to connect to anyone. It's a business decision, if you want a lifestyle, definitely of interest to those who sell their services via social networks - yet ultimately doomed to burn out, thus creating a social network entropy. To add to this, you can buy yourself friends on Facebook. One Website offers to buy "real Facebook friends" for under $130 for 3000 friends and you get 1500 likes for free [sorry no link, the site seems somewhat flaky - yet it mentions that "Facebook friends sale made a business worth 200 dollars million [sic!] a year." This seems a much better deal than online dating where you don't get 3000 friends guaranteed. The question remains - do these friends come with any benefits and if yes with which ones? As Vigil wrote in the Aeneid (II, 49) "...et dona ferentes".