The Google+ circle conundrum: searching for new names for my “friends”

One thing Google+ forces me to think about — something Facebook never did: What do I call all these digital acquaintances of mine?

In Facebook world, everyone is a “friend,” which is simple enough, if not true in real life. Google+ offers circles, places where we can box-in the people we know into as many customized categories as we see fit.

The obvious circles are, well, obvious — coworkers, colleagues, family, people you went to school with, exes. But what about the big vague one: your “friends?”

Within the first few days of using Google+, I realized my “friends” circle was starting to look like my Facebook friends list: an expanding collection of people with whom I had extremely varied levels of contact, from the daily to, well, the never.

I realized what I really need are some new names for these types of friendships. If the Eskimos have 1,000 words for snow, I should have more than one name for my friends. What I need is a new taxonomy.

But what to call these people … I started thinking hierarchically. If you have A-List Friends, then you must a secondary group, “B-List Friends.” That’s a start. Then there are the people you’ve only just met, either in person or digitally. They can’t be B or even C-Listers, since, you know, it’s too soon to tell. “Potential Friends” sounds about right.

You could even have a circle of friends who used to be your really good friends but then they did something to piss you off and now you’re sort of in a holding pattern with them. Why not send them to the digital dog house — call it “Limbo.” I like that.

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Stephen Hammill

A digital communications specialist with several years experience in media, SEO, digital marketing and public relations, I’ve worked to create content utilizing new media while training others to do the same. Find me on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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