What's the Latest Development?
It is safe to say that online social networking has expanded the definition of 'friend'. Today, many of our important social distinctions are made under the umbrella of that word—Facebook friend, work friend, old friend, etc.—but the proliferation of 'friend' hasn't erased the need to prune our social lives. It has, however, made it trickier. The ease of technology, where everything is on our terms, temps us to make ending friendships as simple as 'defriending' someone, another word for which we must credit social networking.
What's the Big Idea?
The emotional severity of ending friendships can be shocking—we typically assume romantic relationships are the ones which 'really' matter in our lives. But the gentle terrain of being someone's friend can make reducing time spent with them feel like betrayal. Slowing things down or completely stopping a friendship means walking a fine line between directness and sensitivity, both of which are required by respect. Yet for all its brevity and superficiality, social networking often provides the only way for an old friend to reach out to us.
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