Posted: April 6, 2012 in Military, Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

What constitutes a good friendship?  I started thinking about this late last night while I was waiting for sleep to come and find me after a colleague had told me that he had in excess of 2000 friends. This statement kind of threw me, I didn’t actually realise that it was possible to know that many people all at once and then it made me feel inadequate and maybe even a little un-liked. As he was explaining to me how popular he was and how hard it was keeping in touch with everyone I was contemplating what I had done wrong in my life. I mean, I know maybe 200 people – a fraction of his number of friends – and out of that couple of hundred people that I know only a fraction of them I would class as friends. The rest would be acquaintances which to me is a totally different thing. And now I’m thinking that maybe it isn’t.

I think that we are all different and that the word ‘friendship’ has different meaning for us. My colleague for instance, those 2000 odd friends of his are mainly social networking site contacts – Facebook ,Myspace etc. So he doesn’t know these people personally and I would hazard a guess that he will never meet 95% of these people and probably most of them he will never have any kind of communication with other than to accept their friend request and maybe send them a ‘happy birthday’ message once a year. But for him that is the important thing. He feels that he knows them. He looks through photos, sends them birthday and Christmas messages, ‘like’ their comments and competes with them in managing the best on-line ‘farm’. It makes him happy and shows the world how popular he is.

To me though, looking from the outside in, this is a shallow kind of friendship and makes me think that somewhere along the line the meaning of the word has been lost with the invention of the social networking sites. Emphasis seems to be, especially for the younger generation, not on quality but on quantity. Your status in life is almost judged on how many people that you know – ‘He/she must be a great person because they have 1000 followers on Twitter’. I’ve seen people get physically upset if they don’t get enough ‘likes’ on a status or if they notice that one of their few thousand contacts has deleted them they start to doubt themselves and wonder what it is that they have done wrong. It honestly pains me and makes me wonder what their lives were like before the onslaught of Bebo and other networking sites.

Don’t get me wrong though. I am not anti Facebook or anything like that. It is a great thing. Being able to stay in touch with loved ones on the other side of the world has never been easier, getting in touch with old school and work colleagues and having a nosey at how each other lives have panned out is no bad thing. It makes us more culturally aware and keeps us up to date on what is happening in the world. And it every now and then it can help re-ignite a friendship that you thought you had lost a long time ago. So it is a good thing all in all. I just think that it is a shame that for some people, the influence of social networking has made them forget the true meaning of friendship and what it is to really ‘connect’ with people. They have replaced real friends with a number on a screen.

A real friend isn’t a number, or a face that you only know through a photo. A real friend for me is someone that I have actually shared real life experiences with. Someone that I have laughed with, cried with and even got into trouble with at times. They don’t judge you and you don’t need them to ‘like’ every thing that you do. They accept you for who you are. They are the people that during the worst of times will lift you up with just a smile or a couple of words. You can go without seeing each other or speaking to each other for months or even years and when you finally do get in touch again, once you have filled in a couple of gaps,  it is like it has only been a day or two since you last saw each other. A friend is someone that you know, no matter what, will always be there for you. They wont delete you just because you didn’t like their status.

I think I’ll take my 200 over his 2000 any day of the week.


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