Platforms such as FaceBook have come under criticism for not offering ways to differentiate ‘types of friends’, and as such, not being ‘truly social’. Whilst this may be true, philosophers, sociologists and cultural anthropologists would argue that fixing this may introduce just as many problems as it solves.

Each of the assumptions below is presented together with a list of claims. Each claim is intended to test the respective assumption.

Assumption #1:  Friendship is exclusively social

  1. friendship can be imaginary (in both satisfying, therapeutic and productive, or at least harmless ways, as well as in what might be considered to be pathological ways)
  2. friendship can involve relationships where none of those involved are or want to be considered friends
  3. friendship can produce or involve asocial and anti-social behaviour
  4. friendship can be seen as exploitation, dependency or harassment
  5. people can consider physical things to be friends
  6. people can consider aspects of their own personality (not just in the case of personality disorders)  to be friends, e.g., moods, modes, behaviours and attitudes
  7. people can consider people they have never known to be their friends
  8. people can consider deceased people to be friends
  9. people sometimes consider kinds of thoughts, theories or ideas to be friends
  10. people often like to refer to relationships as friendships irrespective of whether they consider them to be friendships or not
  11. people often refuse to characterise certain relationships as friendships even though others might find this characterisation wholly unrealistic
  12. concerns about loneliness (or the prospect of isolation) can lead people to value friendship itself above and beyond any actual friends, whom they may in fact not necessarily have any other positive sentiment towards

Assumption #2:  Social activity is defined by friendship

  1. social activity can involve people who are not friends
  2. social activity can involve people who do not want to be friends
  3. social activity can involve people who do not want to know each others’ names
  4. social activity can involve people who do not know each other exist, let alone know their names
  5. social activity can be consumed through remoteness and isolation
  6. social activity can be consumed through ‘undifferentiated crowd proximity’
  7. hostility often involves social activity

Assumption #3: Social activity is about people you like, enjoy being with and consider important

This assumption invites us to question whether it is necessarily the case:

  1. that social activity and ‘company’ are the same thing
  2. that social activity is what friends do
  3. that social activity with acquaintances or contacts who are not friends is ultimately distinguishable (either subjectively or objectively) from activity involving friends
  4. that activity which is not social has no impact on activity which is social
  5. that social activity inevitably involves sharing
  6. that social activity is based upon shared interest
  7. that social activity is based upon perceptions of shared interest
  8. that social activity is based upon mutually consistent perceptions of shared interest