That’s the number of friends I currently have according to Facebook. 179 – really? I’m saying this not to bemoan the fact most people have easily twice or three times [or even more] as many friends but to say: all of these are my friends? I doubt it [out loud today].
I’m aware there’s a lot of talk about the up- and downsides of social media out there already. One of these is the change in our perception. What is a friend, really? Yes, I could go all old-fashioned and look up the definition in a dictionary. Obviously,I did – online, needless to say.
Even this definition is too loose for my preference and understanding of the term already. It’s easy to call pretty much everybody a ‘friend’. Anybody who went to school or college with you? A friend. That person you met on vacation years ago andexchanged numbers with, now texting every once in a blue moon or through short comments under each others Facebook pictures? A friend. Anybody you got to know growing up and don’t exactly hate? Talked about as a ‘friend’. But:
How many friends do we really have?
If you deleted your Instagram account, logged out of Facebook, Twitter and whichever other social network – how many friends would you still have? People who are interested in your life beyond pretty pictures, funny cat videos you shared or the information they can find scrolling through your Facebook profile.
Not only being the word fiend that I am, this change in our definition and use of the word friend makes me sad. Still, it has become so easy to call everybody we’re in a too-difficult-to-explain relationship with a friend. I’m not shunning anybody for using the word ‘friend’ lightheartedly and maybe a little too often. My point is to encourage myself and everybody reading to recollect who are your real friends. Get back in touch through a call, a good old-fashioned letter or even a visit.
Yes, I might have to pull out my phone to remember that one or the other phone number or address [okay, most of them because my brain needs it ;)]. But the connections I have with those people are deep. They are the ones who don’t mind how much time has passed since you last met – instant connection the moment you meet again. The ones that don’t just leave a quick Facebook comment on your birthday but call you. The ones who surprise you with random texts or snail mail – just to ask how you are or talk about this and that. These people are golden. They’re friends.