Your New Friend, Whether You Like It, Or Not
Facebook, a quickly expanding social networking system, has become the most widely used, online, social media website of the internet age. Millenials (the current, tech-savvy generation) are joining it like wild fire. This network allows users to display themselves online and connect with those around them. In an expanding world where the community is vast and the majority of the population seems to be anything but sedentary (in terms of social activities), it makes sense, according to Farhad Manjoo’s article, You Have No Friends, to join Facebook. To those of you who have refused to join this exploding social movement, Manjoo effectively addresses your concerns with Facebook and discusses why becoming a member of this social atmosphere is a must.
Before addressing the essentialness of Facebook, what qualifies someone to be a true friend? What must they do to gain your friendship? Did you ever make friendship bracelets as a child? Though seemingly childish, there is a lesson to be learned from theses simple gifts. Beads on the bracelet are placed is a specific order, which order exactly matches the other(s) to signify the unity between the parties. Though we are older and have outgrown such things, a similitude still remains. You see, the pattern of the beads is much like the qualities we value in a person and what qualifies them as a true friend unto us. In his essay, Manjoo exemplifies several universal qualities each of us consider essential to friendship. And whether you like it or not, you’ve got a friend in him.
From the start, Manjoo appeals to you, the Facebook “holdouts”, through his writing (142). His words flow smoothly, making them easy and enjoyable to read. But how does he accomplish this great feat? By becoming your friend. Yes, that’s right, your friend. The title of his essay, You Have No Friends, makes you ponder your social situation, leaving you feeling a little insulted, as if not having a Facebook prevents the cultivation of meaningful relationships. His title may lead you to believe you actually have no friends. Once in this lowly state, desperate for a real social life, Manjoo shows up and befriends you through his sweet-talking and charisma. Do you know it’s happening? Maybe, maybe not, but you can’t seem to put off the need for friends for very long when such a friendly person, such as he, reaches out to you.
How does Manjoo do this? He addresses you as “friends” (142). However, quickly realizing this unexpected and completely out of the ordinary informality, he politely asks if he may call you as such. This quick exchange between Manjoo and the reader is pleasing and refreshing, causing the reader to esteem Manjoo as a kind acquaintance (for, the reader is still trying to discern who Manjoo is). The author is addressing a crowd which may or may not have the curiosity to continue reading his essay because of their stance on the issue of joining Facebook. However, Manjoo quickly catches your attention and keeps you interested because he has befriended you right off the bat.
Later, he describes you, “holdouts”, as “nice, reasonable people with entirely rational-sounding explanations for staying off [Facebook]” (142). Manjoo has never met you, but he has met your people. He does not know you personally and yet he esteems to you as admirable and rational. Does not this testify of his hope to become your friend? You may dismiss this as bribery, and it might be, but nonetheless, it has had an effect on you: you are pleased and comforted by the way he speaks so highly of you and your holdout associates. But is he telling the truth?
Manjoo exemplifies his honesty throughout his article. He says what he means, and he means what he says. A true friend does not lie and sugar coat the truth. When Manjoo tells you, “friends…it’s time to drop the attitude,” he manifests himself as what Millenials term a “bro” (142). As a bro, Manjoo has your best interest in mind and because he has proven himself to be as such throughout his essay, you will believe his words.
A bro is not only honest, but understanding. After addressing an issue concerning Facebook, Manjoo subtly sympathizes with your side, using words such as, “it’s true,” or “understandable” (143, 141). He cares about your opinion like a real friend, or bro, would and should. Even though you may not have noticed these small phrases and the patterns of his thinking, you have felt their impact. When you see that Manjoo understands your side of the argument, you are completely open, accepting, and interested in his opinions concerning Facebook.
Manjoo knows he has won your friendship and gained your trust as you continue reading his essay. Near the end of his discussion, he knows he has convinced you of Facebook’s worth and to join this social networking system, but he still takes his persuasion a step further. He says, “as you begin to use [Facebook], you’ll notice more and different situations in which it proves helpful,” celebrating his success before you have even finished reading his essay (144).
Why does he celebrate his success? Because your friendship bracelets are nearly complete. He has placed each bead in the correct order which exactly matches yours. However, there is one final bead: joining Facebook. Manjoo states, “friendships seem to demand signing up” on Facebook (144). He has extended himself to you as a true friend and he desires your reciprocation in the form of joining this social network.
What reason has your new friend given you to join Facebook? He has given you plenty.
Manjoo claims “there is no longer any good reason to avoid Facebook” because of the beneficial, social interactions one can have and experience while using the network (142). He also states it is practically an equivalent of email in its reach and much more influential/descriptive (thus the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”). Facebook provides a clearer picture for what is occurring in a user’s life without the extensive use of words (though users may continue to do so). Facebook is a way for people, specifically you, to “connect with people…in a completely natural, unaggressive manner” (142). These “bonds” are maintained and “deepen[ed]” through “short, continuous, low-content updates about the particulars of your friends’ lives,” much like the friendship you have developed with Manjoo as you read his essay (144). This online network allows you to keep up with a person’s life and to have more meaningful conversations with them when you interact in person.
Manjoo senses his brief and profound argument may not have swayed his new friends, so to illustrate his point, he uses Facebook to obtain information for his essay. Manjoo conducted a survey to find the most common reasons “holdouts” resisted joining the social network. By so doing, he captures your interest to see why other holdouts are abstaining from Facebook. Though he is trying to be your friend and help you feel uncomfortable, you are not at ease. However, by presenting opinions you can relate to, you find common ground and feel more comfortable. Because of this, you are open to his analysis and counterarguments. This is the genius of Manjoo: he uses the very social networking system you refuse to join to become your friend, whether you would like to admit it, or not.
Manjoo continues to elevate his game by explaining how you, the holdouts, are “making life difficult for those who went looking for you [on Facebook]” (144). Manjoo informs the reader that you are at fault for your lack of friends. Because of your neglect on this social networking system, you hurt your potential friends and allow what friendships you had to dwindle. This emotional appeal invokes a feeling of unfulfilled responsibility in you, an emotion which drives you to put away what concerns you have with the site and to rectify what problems you have caused. Manjoo cares for you just as those who look for you on Facebook, and your friendship with him “demands” you join Facebook. As a holdout, you feel obligated to be a friend to those seeking your friendship and cannot help but be persuaded at this effective emotional appeal.
Though effective the majority of his essay is, his conclusion is weak and not in the least bit persuasive. Manjoo cites an account of a holdout who gave in to joining Facebook and who ended up loving it. As a holdout, you are not persuaded by one example of your kind joining the other side, are you? No. The example invokes no feelings to take action. An experience of one does not persuade another unless he or she has felt the experience occur within themselves. This does not mean you must join Facebook to be persuaded of it’s goodness. Rather, it means you must have feelings aroused within you in order to be convinced and persuaded. Thus, this example is hardly worth including in the essay and certainly not the most persuasive way to conclude the essay.
However, this small chink in the armor does not mean you have not been convinced joining Facebook is a necessity. No, Manjoo has befriended you through his persuasiveness and you are just itching to click the “accept friend request” button.
So what are you waiting for? He’s your new friend, whether you like it, or not.