Although many definitions of friendship and socialization exist within our world, there seems to be a fundamental belief among many authors and scholars that our society has so exponentially expanded the definition of the term so as it has little if any sense left within it…
This viewpoint is of course not shared by all sociologists and commentators; however, a growing minority of individuals has expressed concern over the current understanding of the definition as an outgrowth of the rampant increase in social networking. One such author, William Deresiewicz, discussed the growth and misrepresentation of the term “friendship” in a recent article that was published in The Chronicle Review on Higher Education. Conversely, a similar critique of how social networking is actually building upon the definition of friend to include a larger number of individuals has been promoted by authors such as Ann Foster of The Patriot. In this way, the analysis that will be provided herein will seek to briefly analyze and summarize the respective views of these two authors and compare and contrast their views so as to come to a clear determination and delineation of the strengths and weaknesses that these respective authors engender. The two viewpoints are naturally at complete odds with each other; however, a more full and complete understanding means that the reader must consider the premise at the heart of each argument. Firstly, with the case of Deresiewicz article, we see an author that has a very traditional view of friendship as defined by cultural figures that have shared love and affection (even unto death) as a sign of their abiding and ongoing affection or one another. (Deresiewicz 1). Such an argument is perhaps a bit misplaced as such a classical view of friendship is such a rare occurrence as to be a poor strawman for holding up to the rigors of analysis. However, whether or not the traditional interpretation that Deresiewicz gives is relevant, it is juxtaposed with the rather frivolous and brash interpretation of gratuitous friendships that exist in a virtual world via the means of social networking sights such as Facebook and the like (Henderson 239). By comparing and contrasting these two wildly different interpretations of friendship, the author is able to point out the pure triviality of our modern definition. However, it should be noted that the argument is somewhat weakened due to the fact that the author seeks to juxtapose the extreme components of both examples. In so doing, the evidence of both comparable parts is severely weakened due to the fact that the extremes are brought up to typify what is indicative of both “true” and “trivial” friendship. To his credit, the author does a firm and fair explanation of how social networking has changed the dynamic in which individuals within our current society interact with each other. Naturally, it would have been better to see a more nuanced approach with respect to the standard interpretations of how individuals view both traditional friendship and social networking friendship as a means to better categorize and understand his thesis. Similarly, the second author that this brief essay will seek to analyze is that of Ann Foster’s article entitled, “Social networking sites can help build, maintain friendships”. This article naturally takes a distant and argumentative stance to that of articles similar to the one exhibited earlier by Deresiewicz. In her analysis, Foster seeks to put forward the premise that although social networking exponentially expands the list of friends that we may retain and count as key contact points, it does not necessarily cheapen the value of these relationships due to the fact that the ultimate cheapening of the relationship is defined not by the mechanism through which the friend is gained (whether traditional or technological); rather, this ...
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