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Are you really “my friend” on the Social Web? Yes. Sort of. But in a different way.

I have lots of “friends.”

There’s my friend Don, who I have known and stayed friends with since the third grade.

There’s my friend Bob, who I have known and stayed friends since we met during a junior year abroad at Antioch College in London back in 1973 – 74. We’ve taken family vacations together, and I even represented his startup which grew to an Inc. 500 company and was subsequently acquired. Now we’re photo buddies and take a trip once or twice a year to go take photos somewhere cool.

But then there’s another college friend, Ryck. We also met at Antioch. We may only see each other once every 2 or 3 years or somewhere on the social web, but we connect.


I also have friends right here in San Antonio where I live.  Most, I met via the Social Media Club or at BMPR and have subsequently become “real” friends out of the context of our mutual business interests.

Then, there are a multitude that I really follow and consider a friend because I like their personal brand. I like what they write. I love their voice and what they have to say.

And finally, there is the type of friend I will meet at a #140Conf, a Mashable party, SXSW, or just recently, the Consumer Electronics Show. (as the photo above that I shot on South Padre Island in Texas illustrates…. birds of a feather, flock together) I’ve been following their persona online when instantly, we meet in person and there’s a bond.

I feel they are my friend from an intellectual point of view.

I respect their brain.

No, I don’t know their family background, how much money they have, or their family’s issues, and to take a line from Clark Gable, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

The more social networks I join, the more I tend to friend many of the same people that may be on other social networks. At least, that’s my first move, having just joined Foursquare (thank you @nanpalmero). I notice that I am starting to “friend” new friends because I recognize their avatar, their photo or their moniker that they go by.

Yes, it’s a different type of friendship, much different from the relationship that I have with Don, Bob or Ryck, but it merits examining a definition of what a “friend” is in the world of the social web.

Photo shot on location by Alan Weinkrantz on South Padre Island, Texas. (c) 2010 All Rights.  All Good.

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