The era of the performer rises as civility plummets and partisanship spreads

Life used to be so inconvenient prior to the internet. There were no one-button presses to satisfy every want, no Google to find every answer, no screen through which to mediate every bit of communication. You had to talk to people in all their glory, ugliness, prejudice and promise. And if you wanted to get … Read more

Friends don’t buy friends: paying for a better Facebook status update ruins the game

For a moment, don your cynic’s armor and think of relationships as a game. Like any game, it has rules. Here’s one of them: you don’t pay people to be your friend. If you do, that person is not your friend.

Right?

Before we gaze deep into the dark navel of interstellar definitions of the meaning of friendship, let’s recap why I wrote this post in the first place: Facebook is letting some users in New Zealand pay to make their status updates more prominent.

I get the business temptation, especially with an I.P.O. on the way. Maybe this is an elaborate play put on to ease investors’ worries about how the social network will continue to grow and churn out profits. This, potentially, could do both. Some folks previously disinterested in Facebook might see a new way to reach people and hop on. Current users might expand their networks in ways to accommodate this manner of paid communication. (Or maybe they’ll contract them to make the networks more efficient.) And if people are buying updates, they’ll want them to be better. Facebook could become a middle-man to writers and editors willing to refine all of those messages.

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