Vernacular Regarding Common Internet Relationships

I was trying to describe my relationship to a friend of mine, only to realize that terms have changed a bit thanks to the internet and social media. Friend is no longer someone you know, like and with whom you exchange discourse, break bread and watch wildlife herd movements (or more commonly, drink beer, watch sports and conjecture about life). Ergo, a list of contemporary era definitions — at least as I will use them — is in order.

Some basic internet relationship parlance:

Friend: Demoted to a synonym for acquaintance, colleague or associate thanks to social networking, e.g. Facebook and Steam. The same protocols and rankings are used to denote the few close friends of a socially reserved person are used to denote the fans of a famous person or the followers of a web personality. Has verb forms to friend and to unfriend.

Tagged Friends: Friends (see above) with which you have a relationship that requires a sorting tag, usually to denote a common activity or group. Usually the beer + football + existentialism friends as denoted above but are not BFF (see below) fall into this crowd. They have no official denotation in social media, though Google+ uses circles and Steam has tags. Google+ ranks friends according to the number of circles they’re in, but that hasn’t been for me a useful gauge.

BFF: meaning Best Friend Forever and usually means what good friend once did. Friends who are actually close to you and with whom you share some emotional intimacy. Best friends are no longer exclusive (#1 BFF is now now denoted by bestest friend or very best friend) A proper adage is A friend is someone who will help you move. A good friend is someone who will help you move a body. This is to say BFFs are the sort for whom you’d risk an aiding-and-abetting felony for some serious crimes. Proximity and face time once used to be a prerequisite for BFFs but with technology and developing relationship structures, this is becoming less and less necessary.

Public: In computer game context, people with whom you game (that is, play games) online that are not friended. Pub games are gaming sessions that are open to the public, i.e. to non-friend players, at risk of griefers and other social hazards.

Gamer Buddy: A friend with whom you game online. Usually neither a griefer nor too objectionable.

Fellow Raider: A regular with whom you play a specific co-op game, usually as applies to RPGs* (or games with RPG elements) also MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). Named after the activity of Raiding, which is to attack large bosses or dangerous regions with a skilled team and some amount of organization so as to increase chances of success.

Team: Raiders in a competitive game. Usually competes against other teams. Some games have features with which to detect and formalize teams enough to give them some officiality.

Guild: A consistent and organized group of raiders known by having some degree of formalization, scheduled events and house rules or play protocols. Kinda like the crew of a pirate ship.

This list may be updated in the future.

* RPG stands for Role Playing Game and spoke to the character development and improvisational acting that would take place around the table at which a pen-and-paper RPG was being played (think Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, circa 1980). In time we developed computer role-playing-games that kept track of all the number crunching that went alongside the character-building and improv, and such games kept the RPG identifier while making little progress in actually allowing a player to role-play. Nowadays, RPG refers more to stats that a player tracks and increments with experience points and levels, rather than the act of taking on a different persona and behaving appropriately to that persona.


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