The Day Friendship Made Someone Rich

In case you haven’t heard already, Facebook goes public today. For $38 a share.

(Check out this infographic to get a grip on how huge this is.)

Today, many people, and one man in particular, will become very, very rich because you and I (and hundreds of millions of people all across the world) have taken our friendships online.

There is a kind of irony here. We so often use financial language to talk about our friendships: “He really made a huge investment in me,” we say; or, “That friendship paid huge dividends for the rest of my life.” Today, this financial jargon, applied via metaphor to our friendships, becomes very real as Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues literally reap huge dividends (of literal money) from our friendships with each other.

I listen to a lot of public and talk radio, and Facebook’s IPO is the talk of the technological town; yet, it’s good to know that there are other people out there who doubt the virtues and use of Facebook. Amidst the flurry of praise for Facebook this week, General Motors announced that it would no longer be buying ads on Facebook because they aren’t sure it’s worth the money.

Ironic, no?

So what then shall we say? Will the money people across the globe invest into this social media giant secure its future? Or is time a respecter of no price tag? Will Facebook go the way of MySpace and slowly disappear? Who can say?

Here is what we can say: fifty years from now, when Mr. Zuckerberg and friends are still living off today’s ridiculous sum of money, will they care if our friendships are better because of what they created? Will they be disappointed to hear that, in the end, the relationships we experienced on Facebook were knock-offs at best, and that we have had to re-learn what it means to be a friend?

No, my “friends.” They won’t care.

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