Since Facebook's birth 11 years ago, the social network has transformed the entire concept of friendship.
With our "friends" right at our fingertips, it's not as easy to fall out of touch with people anymore. Friendships are no longer strained by long distances or the passage of time.
We can track down our first preschool crush, peruse an entire album of photos from an ex's honeymoon, and do research on someone our friend decided to set us up with. It's not unusual anymore to be Facebook friends with someone before we're actually friends with him or her.
Facebook was founded with the purpose of connecting friends and making it easy for them to stay connected. So what better way to celebrate its birthday than to pay homage to, well, friendship?
On Wednesday, the social network shared Facebook Stories, a collection of true stories and stats about long-distance and long-term friendships that have survived with the help of Facebook.
For example, Facebook paired cities at least 10,000 kilometers apart (like Silver Spring, Maryland and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) that had a significantly higher-than-average number of friend connections between residents — therefore highlighting how friendships can connect people in distant places.
Facebook also found the longest distance that separates two friends who are from the same hometown: about 20,000 kilometers.
There's even a story about how an accidental friend request led to a real-life best friendship, after a series of messages revealed how much the two girls had in common.
Mark Zuckerberg posted a rather eloquent ode to friendship in his status:
Today is a day to celebrate friends. It's also Facebook's birthday, but today isn't about celebrating us. It's about friendship. This sounds simple, but not often enough are we taught to celebrate friends. Growing up, we learn that homework and chores are more important and need to be done before we can spend time with friends. As adults, we're told we're responsible when we put our work ahead of our family and friends.
Friendship isn't a distraction from the meaningful things in life. Friendship is what gives meaning to our lives.
Our friendships make the world work. We laugh, we cry and we learn with friends. We eat, we shop and we work with friends. And when we fight for what we believe and change the world, we do that with friends too.
As we all do our part in this journey to connect the world, it's important to remind ourselves to celebrate what's at the root of it all: friendship.
Thank you for being part of our community of friends. Let's turn today into a day to celebrate a friend. #friendsday
Along with Zuckerberg, who also shared a photo with old friend and co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, Facebook users like Maria Shriver, Ivanka Trump, Arianna Huffington, and Ricky Gervais posted statuses in honor of the new "holiday."
What does friendship mean to you?
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