That means you can friend someone but you don’t see their updates. That way, it appears that you’re paying attention to them when you’re really not. Just like everyone does all the time in real life to maintain their sanity.
As duplicitous and sad as “fake following” sounds — and let’s be honest: the whole idea’s pathetic on a number of levels — for a certain kind of user, I can see why there’s a desire for this functionality. Especially on a site like FriendFeed, which has quickly become the platform of choice for the web’s least interesting narcissists — and the slow-witted woodland creatures who enjoy grooming their fur — this is a major breakthrough in the makebelieve friendship space. Yes, primate culture may be primitive, but it is not without its evolving needs.
Thing is, “fake following” is also not so far off from a more wholesome feature that I’ve been begging for on social networks for years now:
Any application that lets you “friend,” “follow,” or otherwise observe another user should include a prominent (and silent) “PAUSE” button.
I’ve been thinking about a “Pause” button for this weblog – the vacation was a very welcome break….