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Friendship is about loyalty, not laws. Should it be policed? - Leah Plunkett | Aeon Ideas

Protecting our friendships

The instances of friendship policing we see have powerful implications for individual friendships and also for the institution of friendship itself.

We have to protect the lawless nature of friendship. As friendship becomes more prescribed by law and more guarded by cyber-surveillance, it might also become less about loyalty and trust, and more about strategy.

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Friendship is about loyalty, not laws. Should it be policed? - Leah Plunkett | Aeon Ideas

Friendship is about loyalty, not laws. Should it be policed? - Leah Plunkett | Aeon Ideas

https://aeon.co/ideas/friendship-is-about-loyalty-not-laws-should-it-be-policed

aeon.co

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Key Ideas

Friendship and the digital domain

Friends are tied to each other through emotions, customs, and norms. With social media, we can share information about our friends without their permission and legal restrictions. We can share information even beyond our friendship network.

As we apply for jobs, prospective employers will likely use social media to learn about us and judge us. Therefore, what our friends show to the world matters.

Oversharing

In recent years, oversharing information gave rise to an army of monitors and spies that imposes surveillance and top-down control of our online lives.

We know that Facebook controls our interaction by what shows up in our newsfeed from our friends. Third-party companies also use our information to push target ads.

Friendship restrictions

Amid all this chaos, friendship itself remains unregulated. You don't need a license to become someone's friend. However, the lawless nature of friendship and the lightly regulated space of social media cause many jurisdictions to set out laws of what you are not allowed to do because it makes you a bully. 

For instance, in New Hampshire, the Pupil Safety and Violence Prevention Act (2000) for students in primary and secondary school says you are considered a bully if you cause emotional distress to a pupil or interfere with a pupil's educational opportunities.

Protecting our friendships

The instances of friendship policing we see have powerful implications for individual friendships and also for the institution of friendship itself.

We have to protect the lawless nature of friendship. As friendship becomes more prescribed by law and more guarded by cyber-surveillance, it might also become less about loyalty and trust, and more about strategy.

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