Whatever happened to Facebook friends actually being friends?

At one point not all that long ago, my Facebook friends were all people who I may not have considered “friends” in real life, but they at least knew me in some fashion. Whether we worked together at a past paper or went on the same school at some point, we had some binding life experience that brought us together on the social network. At the very least, we’ve met at least once – or maybe we follow one another on Twitter.

Lately, my Facebook friends are making me feel like just another number – even the ones who I consider real friends in the “real life network”.

A great deal of them are marketers – by profession, hobby or as a transitional job following a journalism layoff. Somehow, this means our Facebook friendship is little more than that of a spammer to spamee these days.

Every single day a Facebook friend of mine suggests I fan some client or employer of theirs. It used to be, I’d get fan suggestions about bands we both loved in school or groups based around inside jokes from “Arrested Development”.

Now, those same friends are asking me to fan companies I would have no obvious interest in (like Mommy sites), that are way out of my geographic area and aren’t even meant for people in my field (like political groups).

These former friends likely got their jobs based on their number of Facebook friends – and they spam each and every one of us with these stupid invites. I must have missed the marketing conference where they instructed everyone to sell their high school classmates, college friends and family members to anyone who shows them the money.

Social networking is supposed to be about connecting with old friends and making new ones. It can involve marketing products, but it takes individualized recommendations to be anything but spam.

I tolerate a lot from my Facebook friends – borderline-pornographic pregnancy photos, updates from parties I wasn’t invited to and constantly-shifting relationship statuses – but I won’t tolerate spam anymore. I’m going to start unfriending anyone who uses me to spam for their employers and clients. That’s not why I joined Facebook.

Marketing friends, I offer you an easy solution: Take ten minutes to set up friends groups in Facebook.

Go to Friends in the top menu of your Facebook home page and click on All Friends. On that page, click Create New List. Why don’t you be honest and name it the spam list? Look over your friends and select those to whom you actually want to market your product or business. Make sure your mom, your friend who now lives across the country and I are not on it.

Now when you send messages or invites, you can type in the name of that list and send it just to those people.

And finally, if you can’t make this decision about who to spam and who not to spam, maybe you shouldn’t be on Facebook at all. At the very least, you should do your real friends and family a favor and removeĀ  all of them from your lists. You aren’t a real friend, anyway.