What’s a friend?

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I finally joined Rize, a business smart enough to capitalize on the herd mentality. I find it very difficult to choose how to categorize people I mainly got to know online. How close a relationship "friend" as opposed to "contact" means? I have no trouble telling the difference for people I know offline, but here it’s tricky. I’m used to thinking of "friend" as a very serious and committing word, as in "I’ll get you out of trouble if you ever need me," whereas most online connections seem more casual and less binding.
Will I call you a "friend" and, if feelings are unreciprocated, risk looking like an a presumptuous name dropper or an out-of-touch sociopath desperately begging for attention? Or will you just be a "contact", and since things happen in the open on Ryze, you might think I’m an arrogant bastard giving you the cold shoulder like that? Well, whatever, I’m an name-dropping arrogant sociopath bastard anyway. No hurt feelings, it’s just a web site you know. What do you mean, "it’s just a web site," aren’t we web people as well?
06/25/02 update: Cameron points at Amazon.com and their three levels of connection ("shared purchases", "Amazon friends," and "favorite people.")

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