Tuesday, October 20, 2009


What is a friend? I would venture to guess that if you surveyed the answers from a number of folks, they would cover a fairly broad spectrum. Would you define a friend as someone that you say hi to when you pass them in the hallway at work? What about a casual acquaintance? Perhaps, you would consider only those with whom you can share personal information? I have heard a definition of a friend as someone that you do life with. This seems appropriate to me. I think that this implies friends are those people that you choose to spend time with, as opposed to people that you have to spend time with.

With the rise of social networking sites today, it is easy to blur the definition of friend. Some folks that I know use Facebook. A few have several hundred people listed as "friends". In my mind, this is impossible. There is no way, given my definition of friend, that one could have this many deeply personal connections. On my Facebook account, it lists 30 "friends". I would say that this number is not even close to reality. My true number of friends is considerably less. Some of my Facebook friends are folks that I knew from high school but have not spoken to in 25 years. They found my profile and thought it would be fun to contact me. Others are folks that have seen me at church, but we have no real relationship. Still others are folks that I have crossed paths with in the past but are not a part of my life today. On Facebook, lots of these folks clutter up my page with details from their lives that I don't really care about. Still others post the results of the latest Facebook quiz they took or the game that they played. I have no interest in any of this. These are not folks that I do life with in any quantifiable or meaningful way. So, why do I continue to accept Facebook "friend" requests from folks that I barely know and certainly will never get close to? Clearly the falsely inflated number of "friends" listed on my site makes me think that I am more important and popular and wanted than I really am. However, when one of my "friends" comments on my status, it can add a lightness to my heart that lifts me and strengthens me. Perhaps my definition of friend needs to be reconsidered.