Deep or Wide: What’s Your Friends List Like?

January 10, 2008 at 6:06 pm (Friendship, Life, Love, Relationships, Second Life) (, , , , , )


Because clearly Facebook, MySpace, Second Life (SL), Twitter, and LinkedIn aren’t enough social networking tools for me, I recently joined yet one more site: a Second Life-focused networking site called SLProfiles. What? You’re struck by the irony that a social networking site like Second Life has its own social networking site to socially network with those you already socially network with in world? Me too! But a friend of mine was a member so I thought I’d check it out.

Within the first 10 minutes of being a member I had just as many requests for my friendship (that’s 10 requests in 10 minutes for the numerically challenged). I was immediately basking in my own glow; pleased as punch that I must have that certain je ne sais quoi that makes people want to befriend me upon just one glance of my photo. But after I came down off off my fleeting narcissistic high I became suspicious. And as I inspected these new-found friend wannabes, I noticed they all shared a unique quality: a friends list numbering in the thousands. Holy crap! Have I been inducted into the friendship hall of fame? These folks must be the most popular people in SL and they have requested my friendship! Glorious, I have finally arrived to take my rightful place among the elusive “popular crowd” to which I so desperately longed to belong in junior high school, right? Not.

It appears there are some people in SL–and probably other social networking forums too–who collect friends like stamps. (I stole that quote from Loki, to give credit where credit is due 🙂 ). And it got me thinking. Why would someone want a list of friends a mile long that they didn’t really even know? Has the definition of “friend” changed to mean affiliate or, even worse, market segment? Do these folks expect to become friends with these thousands of people on their list? As an experiment I accepted friendship from several of them to see if we would, in fact, become friends. Dialtone. Not even an auto-generated response thanking me for becoming their friend. Phooey! It’s back to the bottom of the social heap for me.

In looking at my own friends list in SL I noticed that I share some of the tendency I had witnessed; I too have a long friends list–not thousands of people, mind you–filled with many acquaintances and a handful of real friends. But there is a difference; I don’t fatten my friends list to merely feel famous. I tend to collect acquaintances who I hope will blossom into friends one day. And I must admit I feel a bit deflated when some of these friendship buds die on the vine without ever really flourishing.

So my point–and I do have one–is this: is it better to have a small collection of rich, deep, and often intense friend relationships or to have a dance card full of fabulous and somewhat frivolous friends? I tend to prefer depth to breadth. But that’s just me. I am an intensity seeker, looking for relationships that knock me off my feet. But I know plenty of social butterflies who flit from sim to sim happy to find familiar faces at each stop.


  1. Bagg said,

    Does your SL friends list look like your group in RL? I think that most people have several close friends, but many acquaintances who may or may not ever make that “inner circle”… Who know’s, maybe i’m just that type.

  2. Franklin Lubitsch said,

    There are a few of us in SLprofiles who keep the friends list down to a minimum, and actually make an attempt at communicating with them. With that in mind, i would love to have a fellow WordPress blogger on my SLprofiles friends list. 🙂

  3. Daxiong Ling said,

    I believe many of us bring our RL selves into the grid. It’s like those who love being the centre of attention that have the longest lists of friends. There are many ways that SL reflects RL, and this is probably similar.
    And for the record– the well isn’t all that deep.

  4. joonie220 said,

    Great post, Cindy. Definitely food for thought.

    My friends list is rather small. I go through it regularly and cull out the ppl I haven’t spoken to in a while and haven’t missed. My ‘friends’ are people I chat with on a regular basis and who, when I haven’t, I miss and im.

    I prefer deep connections with a few. Luckily, my friend’s list reflects that.

    Thanks Cindy! Joonie

  5. Loki Popinjay said,

    My friends lists in SL and on SLP are rather different. In SL I don’t just accept requests. People on my friends list are or have been friends or at least aquintences at some point in time. The only exeptions are people I made tattoos for and ended up in the list for reasons of convenience.

    On SLP I usually do accept requests from people I don’t know if their profile strikes my fancy. I think the main diffrence is the fact I don’t like strangers to be able to see when I’m online in SL. Since I’m logged into SLP 24/7 it’s no big deal there.

    Actually I don’t consider my friends list to be a representation of those I love but rather a sort of address book when I think about it. Those I consider my friends don’t need to be on a list to know they are my friends or so I hope 🙂

  6. Lilly said,

    I love the delete feature on my friends list. I can put the back stabbers, the fly by nighters, and the players out of sight, out of mind. My friends list, I believe, is just that. A list of friends. People that I can enjoy my SL experience with, and ONLY those people.

    Just as in RL when it comes down to it, you can count your REAL friends on one hand. (Sometimes if you are REALLY lucky, two).

    The size really doesn’t matter. Its the motion’ in/of the jokin’ (and laughin’) that results in a great friends list for me.

  7. Koz said,

    In the days I played SL (over a year), I always managed to not have more then 10 friends in my list. More would have been ridiculous since I had a hard time even keepin up with those few (yes..I know, not a good multitasker :P)

  8. Trow said,

    As a musician, my friends list includes anyone I really come in contact with…with limited groups etc, it is the only way, outside a piece of paper, in documenting all those peeps that you may want to work with professionally in the future.

    My thought is, my true friends in sl I know by name anyhow, so yes, it can be a drag weeding thru that long list, but I also enjoy the chance IM from a friend from a time gone by just checking in to see how things are going.

    Ironically, one of the first friends I ever made in sl, never friended me, nor I her, until just this week. But despite not being on my list, we had regular contact in the interim.

    So my list of friends is quite different from my “friends list”. But in either case, it is probably wider than it is deep, for better or worse.

  9. Benson Schmooz said,


    Great piece as always.

    I recently removed a ‘friend’ that painfully, we mutually had drifted apart from one another. Well, perhaps the better judgement would have to simply kept the entry and let the shine tarnish to obscurity.

    Instead, I did get a response, flamed in fact for the unilateral removal of our ‘essentially over’ relationship. Ahhhhh the use of alternate AVI’s that people use to do their bidding! A bit of drama of course, but the the act of removing a friend can be as powerful as disavowing a relative or dissing someones manhood.

    So… I learned a good lesson, you can add people quickly (like a Vegas wedding), but removal can be like a divorce (California style).


  10. Zippora Zabelin said,

    First time I’m reading your blog and I love it (not only this post). Can I add you on my friendslist? 😉
    Just kidding, I prefer a short list of friends above a long list of “contacts”. But I did add you on my feed and will add you on my blogroll 😉 Keep on going like this 🙂

  11. argyleboi said,

    I was a member of one of those extraSecondLifular social networking thangs. Two of them, actually. I went through the same feeling you describe, feeling kinda special as the friendship requests mounted for a bit, until I realized that this using the term “friendship” in this kind of context is oxymoronic.

    Which is better, then? Deep or wide?


    That’s why I’ve only got one friend now.

  12. Pounamu Kohime said,

    Friends…bleh. Who needs em?

    Ok I do can I add you on SLP I’m there as well. Please don’t be put off by the fact I have a couple of thousand friends and the attention span of a g –

  13. Abreojos Barbosa said,

    Hi Cindy…met you on a dance floor read your profile, checked out your website and I immediatly wanted to have the chance to talk with you so offered friendship hope we might again when we had the time! When u accepted you mentioned it was ok as long as it wasn’t just to be on a list.
    My friends list slowely has gotten longer and langer with few deletions, some of which I regret, but i do still have their calling card!
    Looking forward to interesting conversations about anything you like. I rarely have more than 25 friends on line at one time anyhow and even the best of friends, we can go without saying something for days. I hate typing all day, by the way, voice is required if you got lots to say!

  14. kanomi said,

    “…a social networking site like Second Life has its own social networking site to socially network with those you already socially network with in world?”

    lol, classic quote.

    My in-game friends *is* a mile long because I get friends requests all the time simply because I’m a dancer. I accept all requests and periodically go through it. But I had to turn the ‘friend online/offline’ thing off, it was driving me crazy.

    To keep track of my close friends, I set up a private group and invite them to join. Only one was too shy to.

    Of course the problem with this method is that if everyone did it, you’d fill up your 25 groups a lot more quickly.

  15. Roisin said,

    My in-world friends list is longer than I like, mainly because I have to maintain some people as business contacts. My preference would be to have only the close friends with whom I regularly talk on my list, and then to have a second tier for business contacts and acquaintances.

    Since SL doesn’t currently provide a way to separate contacts by category, I end up keeping the calling cards when I remove people from the active friends list. That functions as the second tier, after a fashion.

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