Defining Your Friends

Having relationships used to be easy, says Susan Orlean at The New Yorker. Online networks have created new and complex folds in our social fabric.

Human relationships used to be easy: you had friends, boy- or girlfriends, parents, children, and landlords. Now, thanks to social media, it’s all gone sideways. I decided to try to index these new entities—to draft a sort of Social Media Bestiary. Here it is, so far: The friend you know well, have encountered frequently in the flesh, perhaps even hugged; the friend you sort of know, because you have friends in common and have maybe attended the same events—not together; the friend, or friend-like entity, whom you met initially via Facebook or Twitter or Goodreads or, heaven help us, MySpace.

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