I admit it. I don’t get it. Some people think I’m “tech savvy” but I’m not really. Some people think I’m pretty much friendless (perhaps). But one thing I know for sure is that I do not have 400 friends. I don’t even have 100 friends. Am I a loser? It’s possible. Are there those that love me? Yes. Are there those that care about me? Yes. Are there those who dislike me? For sure.
Do I know a lot of people? I’ve come across several in my life from many different countries and all walks of life. Can I converse with people easily? I would say up until about 7 years ago the answer was “no”, and now I’d say the answer is “yes”.
Am I sociable? Reasonably so since 2005. Am I capable of making new friends? I would say yes. I think I can make friends of all ages and have a “gift” (for lack of a better word) to relate to people of all ages and different cultures at a level that is comfortable for them.
Here’s where I get lost? My nephew Jared (who I would consider a friend) told me about this Internet phenomenon in the mid-nineties called, “Facebook”. I had a look at it and thought, “pretty dumb, it will soon go the way of the dodo bird”. Obviously I cannot foresee the future.
Most people I know are “on Facebook”. Some people I know are addicted to it. My sister is always on it (I consider her a friend). My cousin Janice posts on it constantly (and I consider her a friend who I wish I was in closer contact with). My kids are on it, my nieces and nephew. My mother isn’t on it. I consider her a friend and all I can say about her non-participation on Facebook is “good on you”!
My dad isn’t on Facebook but he passed away in 2006 but I like to think he wouldn’t have been on it. My Uncle Murray (age 94) and Aunt Rose (age 92) aren’t on Facebook and I say good for them. They probably don’t use computers so maybe they should get bonus points.
What’s my point and I do have one. How do all these people have literally hundreds of friends? No one has hundreds of friends. What is a friend? I think many of us have different interpretations of what a friend is. I looked it up in the dictionary and this is what I found:
1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: friends of the Boston Symphony.
3. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?
4. a member of the same nation, party, etc.
5. ( initial capital letter ) a member of the Religious Society of Friends; a Quaker.
Let’s look at these definitions.
I don’t know any Quakers. I don’t think I’ve ever known a Quaker. Maybe I know some Quakers that are still in the closet. I’ve never even eaten Quaker Oats.
If a friend is a member of the same nation, does that mean all Canadians are my friends? I hope not since we tend to ignore each other mostly.
Is a friend really someone who I am not hostile with? Gosh, I never would have thought of that. That would mean I have billions of friends. I hope this isn’t true because it would take forever to get their approval to be friends on Facebook. And in the case of the Chinese it would be almost impossible since Facebook is banned in China. (Maybe they’re on to something).
I can go with a person who gives assistance, depending on the assistance. I mean someone holding a door open for me is giving me assistance. Maybe that’s where all these people on Facebook are finding their friends. Someone holds a door open for them and voila, you “friend” them. I don’t know if I would call a door holder a friend, but rather just a considerate person.
And now we come to number 1. “A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard”. I think we’re getting to where I can sign on to this as a friend. Do all these people with the hundreds of friends on Facebook feel affection for all those people on their friends list? I certainly don’t want to call anyone a liar, but somehow I doubt it. How about personal regard? That’s a toughie but I’m going with some people have friends on Facebook they haven’t spoken to in years and don’t think much of.
Are having friends on Facebook some kind of competition? Will we be seeing it in the Olympics this summer in London? Instead of a “parade of nations”, we can have a “parade of friends”. People can march into the stadium with their thousands of friends to the applause of viewers around the world.
I tend to break up friends in categories, the most common of which are “work friends” or for the younger, “school friends”. Are these “real friends”. It has been my personal observation that the person who was your BFF at work fell off the map when you or they switched jobs. Sorry, that doesn’t qualify as a friend.
I tend to think that that person you knew 25 years ago who you made contact with once just to hear what they’ve been up to (25 years in one email) is not really a friend.
I tend to think that those you’ve met once or twice are not really friends. I know people can have lots of acquaintances and that makes sense, but I didn’t see “acquaintance” used as a definition of friend. How about not claiming to have 712 friends on Facebook, and saying I have 5 friends and 707 acquaintances? That works for me.
I think if you have a friend on the same continent, you would tend to phone them and talk to them. I don’t think posting some inanity on someone’s “wall” is a “friend-like” act. If the friend is far away you can always write a letter (if you remember how) or send an email with proper grammar. I don’t think “how r u” qualifies as writing anything, but shows disrespect.
I’m on Facebook. I have 27 friends but I think that’s stretching it. Let’s face it; in the Facebook world I’m a big loser. From these 27 friends I have one who I went drinking with a couple of times in Korea. There is a very nice lady I used to work with who I haven’t seen or spoken to in years. I have 2 relatives in England, one who I don’t think talks to me, and the other (a very nice woman) who I am not in contact with.
I have someone I used to go to school with but who I haven’t spoken to in about 5 years since he promised to send me the pictures he took at my daughter’s wedding and then didn’t bother to. Am I mad about that? No. But I don’t think we are friends anymore although at one time we were.
There is another woman I used to work with and go walking with who I liked very much as a friend but we haven’t spoken in years. I guess even though I still feel warmth for her, we are not really friends anymore.
There is a Korean gentleman who I haven’t seen since Korea who was my friend in Korea. I did ask him to do something for me (a reference letter last year) and it was no problem. I guess he’s a distant friend. If he asked me for something I’d be thrilled to do it for him and I wish we could see each other occasionally, but he lives in Winnipeg now and I’m in China. And even if I still lived in Toronto, that’s still quite the distance.
The rest are relatives (some of whom I talk to) and one is actually someone I consider a friend (Hi Scott). However, Scott and I will pick up the phone and chat every few months. We don’t live close to each other, but I still consider him a friend. After all he is the man who many years ago when I got Hepatitis asked, “does that mean the party you’re planning is cancelled”? Is that not what you call a true friend?
So I admit it. I just don’t get it. I don’t see this fascination with Facebook (who cares that you had dinner last night) and don’t get me started on Twitter where I can follow you into the bathroom and read your post about the consistency of your bowel movements. Seriously, who cares?
There are people in this world that I care about. There are people in this world who I would do anything for that was in my power to do. These are my friends. Why can’t a “friend” mean a “friend”. When did the definition change and why did usually sensible people allow it to change?
Okay, I choose to be a pariah. But that’s okay because I’m going to invent a website called “Pariahbook”. You can’t copy me since I wrote this first and I’ll sue you if I find it online. It will be a website for the friendless like me whose actual friends number less than 20, and of those 20 many are family.
Why can’t the word “friend” actually mean “friend”. I’m talking about the first of the 5 definitions I quoted above. So you will never see me with 200 friends on Facebook. Why do people use Facebook? Did I somehow miss that class on the meaning of “Facebook”. I saw the movie, “The Social Network”. I loved it. But I still don’t get it.
To me it’s like P.T. Barnum once said, “Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the American public.”