My post from the other day, Online Presence: Asset of The Future, Why Your Social Graph Will Be Worth More Than Your Home, got me thinking. If our social graphs were truly our most valuable asset, and were at the center of our world, how would our lives be different?
For me, the most glaring answer to the question is our definition of friends. Today, friends are people we meet in person. Friendship requires physical interaction, you get together for a beer, you ski together, you go to dinner together. Before the Internet, physical interaction was required before a friendship could be claimed. Of course, you actually had to enjoy the person, have something in common and be close enough to hang out. Being close enough to hang out with one another isn’t so critical anymore. Actually meeting our friends in person will no longer be a prerequisite. The Internet and Social Networking is changing that.
Soon we will have more friends online than offline. When I say more friends, I mean real friends, people we engage with, enjoy their company, genuinely feel for and trust. The internet and social networking allow us to find and engage with people similar to us quick and easy. The web allows groups or as Seth Godin calls them, Tribes, to come together almost instantly. People can find people like them and begin talking in seconds. Many of the barriers to developing friendships, such as time, location, and identification of common interests are gone. It is becoming much easier to become friends.
Access to our online friends is be quick and easy. Presence features tell us when they are online and available. Whether it’s Facebook, Skype, Loopt or any other social network presence tells us when our friends can come out and play. The readily available, easy access to people who think like we do will make it easier for us to make more friends online than offline?
What happens when we have this network of “real” online friends we’ve never met? They, like any other network, begin to refer and share. Our online network of friends will act just as our offline networks, but with a lot more velocity. They will recommend us for jobs. They will gossip. They will introduce us to new people. They will try to get us dates. They will drunk tweet us. It will be exactly the same, but without the physical connection.
Online friendships will be as common and acceptable as today’s traditional definition of friends. We will date people for extended periods of time, and even fall in love before we ever even meet them in person. We will loan them money. We will give them our blog and social network passwords. We will tell them where we live. We will tell them our childrens names, what we do for a living and when we are going on vacation, leaving the house empty. All without ever meeting them in person. We will see no difference between our online friends and our offline friends. There will just be more of them.
Soon, you will have more friends you’ve never met, than friends you have and be completely OK with it.
Me, I already have some and I’m finding more all the time. I’ll will update this post, when my online friends outnumber my online friends. It will happen, I’m sure of it.