Yes indeed. Facebook is doing it's best to kill the word "friend".
The other day I found a post about 10 Myths About Introverts. Now, for anyone who knows me personally it's no surprise that I'm an introvert. I think a lot of writers, published or not, are. Hey, we spend plenty of time in our own heads dreaming stuff up, and more than one pro at SFContario mentioned on panels that they need time away from people to decompress. Of the 25% of the population that is identified as introverted I'd be interested to see how many of those work in some sort of creative capacity.
So what does this have to do with the cheapening of the word "friend" or Facebook killing it? A lot actually. See the following:
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have.
They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough
for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal
ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of
substance, you’re in.
That pretty much describes my attitude towards my friends. There are maybe three people I hang out with on a regular basis, and only a few people I'll go out of my way to run into at conventions. Not that there aren't a large amount of lovely people whom I've met and would love to run into again, but few of them would I call friend. I like them, but that's about it.
Friends are people I feel comfortable around, who I don't have to be "on" with, meaning I don't have to worry about every word that comes out of my mouth or who will think I'm weird if I say something odd. In fact, quite often I'll make an obscure joke about something fannish and my friends will be the first to pick up on it.
So what does this have to do with Facebook? Well, to connect with someone on Facebook you have to "friend" them, and each time you do it cheapens the word just a little bit.
I do what I can to counteract this. Everyone I've added on Facebook I've either met or interacted somehow, even it is just through the medium of email or instant messaging. I'm "friendly" towards them, in most cases, but I wouldn't necessarily call them friend. More like "friendly acquaintance".
I've added those people either because I find them interesting or pleasant to be around, even if I wouldn't say we're friends. And to those few people who I truly call friends, thank you for being in my life and I hope we have many more years of knowing each other.