“Like” a hug and fake friends – has social media changed the meaning of friendship?

“Like” a hug and fake friends – has social media changed the meaning of friendship?

An expert from RMIT University is available to talk to media about how our need for meaningful social interaction remains strong amidst the increase in social media and “performance” friendship.

Dr. Alexia Maddox, RMIT Research Fellow (0417 058 571 or alexia.maddox2@rmit.edu.au)

Topics: friendship, friends, social media, social interaction 

“With the rise of social media in mediating our relationships and social connections, our friendship networks are more visible.”

“There is a performative affirmation and visual culture that rises through and around friends online.”

"What we know about our friends has changed through the visibility trails that these daily connections leave in our digital space, publicly documenting a visible “friendship” archive.” 

“So is a friend the same as a follower? Definitely not, but they can be.” 

“On social media, we can see how many “friends” we have and for some, the quantity of connections feels like affirmation and the acknowledgement received through a like, heart or gif of something you’ve posted can be validating and gratifying.”

“While some people are very selective with their social media profiles and networks of friends, others are much more gregarious and outwards focused. 

“These personalities cultivate large and loose networks of acquaintances and followers and the line between what is public and private, as well as how and to whom we disclose intimate details about our lives, gets very blurry.”

“While the performance and norms around friendship has changed over time, social bonds and our need for them have not. It’s hard to mistake the difference between validation from loose associations of people with the validation and acknowledgement you receive from people who know and love you, like our friends.”

Dr Alexia Maddox is part of RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub and a Research Fellow on the Digital CBD Project. With a background in the sociology of technology, Alexia brings her research interests in socio-technical transformations and digital community. She applies a social lens to questions of how emerging technologies are involved in the processes of social change and a research methods lens to how this can be studied.


Interviews: Dr. Alexia Maddox, 0417 058 571 or alexia.maddox2@rmit.edu.au

General media enquiries: RMIT Communications, 0439 704 077 or news@rmit.edu.au


  • Society
  • Blockchain

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.