I’ve got a high school reunion coming up, which means I’ve been added to a group for it on Facebook, which has immediately been followed by a small avalanche of friend requests from people I haven’t spoken to in years. It got me thinking about the different terminology that social media sites use.
On LinkedIn, the people you know are “connections.” It’s an unassuming word that makes a lot of sense to me. You know that person, they know you, there is some kind of undefined connection between the two of you.
On Google+, they don’t even label these connections. You place people in circles, which you then get to label yourself. Maybe you have a “People I Hate” circle for some reason. Maybe you have a “Family” circle. Google+ is agnostic to your labels.
Twitter is my favorite. As a broadcast medium, on Twitter you simply have “followers.” Maybe they’re friends, maybe they’re family, maybe you don’t even know them. The only connection is that they follow you (you don’t even have to be following them back).
But Facebook sticks with “friends” as their label. Maybe it’s borne out of their initial battle for social media supremacy with MySpace (“The Place for Friends”), I don’t know. And while Facebook includes the ability to group your connections, even people in a “People I Hate” group are still labeled as friends.
Maybe it’s a small thing. I follow tons of people I don’t know on Twitter. I’ve got connections with recruiters I’ve never actually met on LinkedIn. Facebook? Almost entirely people I’m actually friends with (plus a couple people who used to be friends).