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Puzzled, "wine nose", who has only recently joined the "facebook" community, asks the question: "Why do I only have so many friends? I don't have that many chairs! Do they want to have a party at the WEINNASE?". No, dear wine nose, your new friends don't want to have a party at your place, but they want to advertise, advertise, advertise - be it for an idea, a cause, a product, an attitude or just for their own vanity. In fact, at the latest since the advent of "facebook", the term "friend" has been used almost inflationarily.

Encounters: Companionship% Friendship% Community of interest or even love?

"Friendship", as early as Aristotle, is a relationship between people that is associated with a high degree of ethics, It has degenerated into a trendy mobilisation and advertising tool due to the anonymity of modern communication technology. I, too, often and gladly speak of "my wine friends". Are they really all my friends or do they only share my friendship with wine? Does this talk of friendship have nothing to do with me? I've had the same experience as my real friend, the almost legendary "wine nose". Suddenly I'm standing there with more than 100 friends. And there are more every day. What kind of snowball system have I started?

Schematic representation of the snowball system (pyramid shape)

In the meantime, a new category has been added: the "fan" or, in emancipatory terms, the "female fan". Whereas my parents once warned me about "false friends", I have now learned to categorise my friends: Wine friends, Karl May friends, Santons friends, photo friends, travel friends, real friends... The category "fake friends" doesn't exist (yet).

In the meantime, I have even become quite bitchy. I simply reject more and more "friend requests", even if the system tells me: "23" or even "56 mutual friends". Yes, I have even started to delete friends from the friends list. I admit to still belonging to that generation for whom it hurts to lose friends, to give up friendships. I grew up with Winnetou and his blood brother Old Shatterhand, the archetype of friendship until death and beyond. I cried when Winnetou fell victim to Santer's murderous bullet in volume 3. Who would cry today if Harry Potter fell off his broom and broke his neck at the Quidditch game in volume 7?

Winnetou's death (in the film)

At some point I also came across - in classical educational material - the ballad "Die Bürgschaft* by Friedrich Schiller: "...zurück! du rettest den Freund nicht mehr, So rette das eigene Leben!". This moved me just as much as Winnetou's noble spirit before, especially as Dionys, the tyrant, convinces himself: "...and loyalty, it is no empty delusion. Take me, too, as your comrade. Let me be, grant me this request, the third in your alliance". There is nothing left of that. Twitter, Facebook, all the forums and blogs have redefined "friendship", I have only now become really aware of this.

I am also beginning to rethink and redefine the term "wine friends". From the early forum days of Wein-Plus, a few "friends" have really remained friends, over ten years and more. Others have said goodbye, simply left, usually without saying "goodbye", disappeared. Recently, when a *wine lover" who had mutated into a wild blogger was ranting profusely about the antiquated and sluggish wine-plus forum, I drew his attention to the term "sustainability" or - to put it more pathetically - trust and loyalty. His reaction: "I've just never thought about that before" - and he continues to tweet, facebook and blog blithely. Joking about a moose wine test, caricaturing the evening meal, launching the third show of the day, that's just super-awesome!

I imagine friendships - even wine friendships - differently. It's okay to joke and joke around, there are also serious and cheerful times. The basis of every friendship are values that are explicitly excluded from the virtual world of friendship: Appreciation, trust, reliability, positive experiences. In short, what today is called "sustainability", even when it is "only" about business relationships.

Wine is also a business, but so are Webpages, forums, blogs. At least they have to be financed. The hobby garden of the internet has long since turned into a tough business - only those who can prove the necessary "audience ratings" - called reach or market share - will survive. This is also how the wine and internet industry goes about catching customers. But this is no longer called advertising. Sponsoring sounds much better, but even better is the promise: "facebook helps you find friends" or, more succinctly, "become a fan".

What was reserved for sports supporters% has now penetrated all areas of life - the fan club

Thus, without being aware of the consequences, I have become a fan of many a wine merchant, professional communicator and winery, for example of the Domaine de la Romanée Conti, together with 2'108 other fans. I confess that I have never consumed a bottle, as probably the majority of the 2'000 other "fans" have. I admit that I have stood in front of the imposing wrought iron grille to catch at least a glimpse of the famous Domaine. There is no trace of friendship with the winery, at best envious awe. Silently, I resolve to leave various fan communities, to terminate the friendship, to no longer accept new friendship requests, because these no longer arrive only daily, soon once an hour. The system is now so sophisticated that it can generate friendships on its own. Recently, I had to ask the Facebook community for help because I couldn't get rid of its self-generating game and thus began to terrorise my "real friends" unintentionally.

Meeting with my friends. 100's loaded and came. Real% not virtual!

Today I received an eMail from a neighbour in an almost traditional way: "Dear Peter, dear Heide, time flies - I like to remember the wonderful party in the red arrow - as I am now changing from number 5 to six in year front, I spontaneously decided to do this with a few friends - I would like to invite you to the restaurant.... on.... and would be very happy to have you there. Kind regards Rolf". Of course we will be there. Of course we will celebrate our friendship and reaffirm it with a good bottle and a good meal. And the bottle(s) we'll probably bring won't be virtual, and the friendship won't be authenticated with the stamp "fan". It will be a real friends' get-together. What do I care that HK and ML are now fans of ProWein, JW and another 7 friends are fans of Gliss Caffee and MS has just tested a ripe Côte-Rôtie - after a last check in the clinic - (picture available), which is still affordable at 35 euros, an observation that GS - as she reports - even likes.

At the locked entrance gate to the Romanée Conti winery. Longing looks% Memory images.

No, I don't turn away from forums and blogs, from Twitter and Facebook. I'm simply using my time, which is already far too scarce, more and more to really meet friends, to really drink good wines and to really enjoy good food. My hundred-plus wine friends have become a small group of maybe ten. Then there are all those who are not Facebook friends because they don't think much of virtual friendship and all those whom I meet in life. Together we will then set off on journeys and encounters, fully aware that even as wine lovers we cannot or do not have to be "everybody's darling".



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