Do you feel that your workplace is an extension of your social network? Do you view your co-workers as your friends? This is a very interesting question. Speaking for myself, I choose my friends very carefully and wisely. Just because we work at the same place does NOT make us friends...automatically. I know that friends are people that have some things in common and that sharing a place of employment may be considered as having something in common. But in most cases that is where it starts and ends.
I do not consider those that I work with as my friends. Why? Because people I choose to be my friends do not stab me in the back. They don't try to weasel their way into my life in order to gain some information about me to use to their advantage, either in prestige or in their career. At work I am a very closed person when it comes to my personal life. Those that I choose to include in my life are the ones that I will open up to. Those people are the ones that I will put on my list of trusted people. However, once that trust is violated I remove those people from that list. I still may be cordial to them and particiapte in meaningless chit-chat, but no longer will I allow them "in". And once you are off of my "list", you have a better shot of growing wings and flying to the moon then ever getting back on my "trust list".
The workplace may be a microcasm of the real world, but I don't trust everyone in the world. I have seen too many people, too many times, endear themselves to people only to use that friendship to feather their own nest or to advance their own careers. To illustrate what I am referring to, I knew a person who worked in the casino industry. As usual he tended to gravitate toward the one group of people that he's been working with for years.
Now, this person has always been a dependable dealer who didn't call out that often and was consciencious about their job. He was always focused on the casino customer and always worked in such a sway that it was fun to be at the table with him. In due time the union tried to make inroads in the casino. The union would pass out info and such to the dealers. Well, this one time the group is sitting in the break room discussing everyday things and one topic they discussed was the attempt by the union to get into the casino. This person I knoew made only one comment...that maybe in light of what was going on in other casinos (i.e. very few part-timers being offerred full-time positions and that more and more full-time position schedule times were being filled by part-timers, etc.) that maybe they should find out more of what the union had to offer. A few weeks later, this friend noticed that management was being very cold toward him and he got less of the desirable start times (as before they tended to be divided as equaly as possible). At this same time he was trying to move up to a better shift (those that may be in the casino industry may relate to this) that would be more convenient for him. Well, he didn't get the better shift...but another one of his "friends" from the group did. Coincidence? Needless to say, he wasn't happy. Then one time a supervisor asked him for a favor and to work a bit later on a game. He replied to the supervisor that he didn't know why he should do anyone a favor when they didn't do anything for him...referring to the request for shift change. The reply he was told was that if he wanted anything from the casinos then he shouldn't be so pro-union. Hmm, wonder where the casino got that idea from? The "friend" who did get his request for shift change fulfilled? well, he was out of the "group" because he moved to another shift and never got to see them. But I guess he got what he wanted.
The workplace is for work. As a social environment it sucks. People are manipulative and will sacrifice anyone else for their own benefit. Exactly like our politicians act.