Saturday, July 05, 2008

Q: What’s the difference between a real friend and a virtual friend?

A: A real friend gives you a ride to the airport.

I’ll be honest. I’ve been having a lot of trouble ‘getting’ FaceBook, MySpace and all those other social networking sites. Yeah, I belong to LinkedIn and it has been sort of neat getting back in touch with all those people that I went to college with thirty years ago.

I get a list of people who were former classmates. I contact them. They contact me. I find out they have a kid in college. They find out I have a kid in college. Some have come over to the dark side as software developers. A few own a small business. Few have gone on to the Big Time.

Great information! Then I never hear from them again.

I have a hundred people on my ‘direct network’. About half of them would be able to pick me out of a crowd in an elevator or recognize my voice on the phone. The others have not shared a meal with me in a long, long time.

Of the 2,965,200+ people in my extended network, I think that few would know enough about me or my whereabouts to turn me into the FBI if there was a million dollar reward on my head.

But still, this bunch of virtual friends and contacts have a lot of value to people who buy, sell and operate social networking sites. In fact Linked In has been valued at $1 billion USD. (That’s a thousand million dollars folks!)

So where does that leave us? We have ‘communities’ of people who know each other as web sites, emails and interactive avatars. Jeepers, for all we know, Bill Joy might be right! Maybe there is nobody there. Maybe our virtual friends are nothing more than a collection of very smart computer programs that know how to behave as that which we assume to be a person.

So how do you tell your real friends?

It’s simple. The next time that you have to take a plane trip and you want to avoid paying for a cab or airport parking, put an alert out on your social network seeking a ride to the airport. Any one who responds is a real friend. Because as we all know, a real friend is someone who will take you to the airport when you need a ride.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Big Time"?
It all depends on your meaning of success. Maybe the big time is that one gig where everyone is "there" even though you're only making a couple hundred dollahs.
Then again it could be playing gigs with B.S. That might be just that;bs.
I am not a software developer. But I play trumpet and sing and can write down about anything I hear on a piece of music paper. I can't play everything I hear but I hope that never happens. If it does I'll go into software design.
Your friend, Bill Averbach

12:15 PM  

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