…in some places.
Mathematical sociology suggests there are three types of interpersonal connections.
Strong ties are people who live, work, or play with you.
Weak ties are people who may have been strong ties but are now acquaintances or people you once met but never moved beyond acquaintances. These could be former classmates, ex-coworkers, old flames.
Absent ties are people who you “nod” to, such as others living on your street or Starbucks baristas.
I recently wrote about wanting weak ties on Facebook and LinkedIn. I still do. It’s irrelevant to me if you are someone I’ve met or not, for there are digital equivalents. Someone like Danny Brown – who I never met but know fairly well through his social media activities and our reciprocal online communication – is a weak tie. Kristi Hines and Phil Gerbyshak and others who I have an online relationship with are weak ties, too.
What about absent ties, though? I think the answer differs depending how you use a networking site. I don’t mind connecting with absent ties on LinkedIn because I want to climb a particular professional ladder but most of my strong and weak ties are in other sectors. Whereas I share more personal stuff on Facebook and I don’t want absent ties to lurk. Twitter is a great network for absent ties because anyone can follow me and I can follow anyone.
There is no denial that weak ties and absent ties are important but where you want to “connect” or “friend” them is your choice.
Let me know your thoughts. Tweet me at @ariherzog.