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Are Your Facebook Friends Really Your Friends?

In a New York Times magazine article, Hal Niedzviecki reflected on social media sites—specifically, Facebook. Soon after starting a Facebook account, Niedzviecki had accumulated about 700 on-line "friends." In his own words, he was "absurdly proud of how many cyberpals, connections, acquaintances, and even strangers I'd managed to sign up." But he went on to point out that due to a 2-year-old at home, his "workaholic irritability," even his love of being left alone, he had fewer in-the-flesh friends to hang out with than he'd ever had before. So he decided to have a Facebook party to push his virtual friends into actual friends.

Niedzviecki invited all 700 of his "friends" to a local bar for a party. People could respond to one of three options: "Attending," "Maybe Attending" and "Not Attending." Fifteen said they would be there, and sixty said they might be there. He guessed somewhere around 20 would show up.

He writes about what happened next: "On the evening in question, I took a shower. I shaved. I splashed on my tingly man perfume. I put on new pants and a favorite shirt. Brimming with optimism, I headed over to the neighborhood watering hole and waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually, one person showed up."

And the one woman who showed up to meet Niedzviecki? He didn't know her. She was a friend of a friend. They ended up making small talk and then she left.

Hal waited till midnight but no one else showed up. So, he ordered a beer and sulked. He concludes his article with these words: "Seven hundred friends, and I was drinking alone."

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