In a move that should rock the ‘social network space’, Twitter just removed the vague, confusing, juvenile label of ‘friend‘, replacing it with the more descriptive ‘following‘ 1.
Aside from the label being more accurate 2 it creates a nice symmetry with ‘followers‘. You and I could say ‘friend‘ is the overlap between the two, but as Biz states, it’s not for a server to define.
The /following and /followers listing is also nicely cleaned up. Insted of the confusing ‘add‘ and ‘follow‘ links, ‘follow‘ is only offered for the people that you’re not (but are you). Within /follows a radio button specifies if you’ll get ‘notifications‘ 3.
Now, if we could finally kill off ‘user‘.
1. As of this writing, the URLs have yet to update.
2. Only ‘stalking‘ would be more accurate.
3 Still not a great label, I say ‘stalking‘ is appropriate here.
Robert Scoble outlines how to be his “friend” (Hint: live in Facebook) that’s after this childish outburst:
Oh no, do you mean to say your feelings toward someone else aren’t reciprocal? Welcome to being an adult.
The current usage of ‘friend’ in these ‘social networks’ is simplistic, heavy-handed, and juvenile. Even in IRL, relationships are more nuanced and asymmetrical (e.g. “fuck buddy”, “stalker”, “BFF”) – if these networks want to be relevant in a decade, they need to reflect the actual relationships. But then, most adults don’t need training wheels on their bikes or chaperones when they go out.