“I’ll Be Your Best Friend!”
In grade school, the strongest currency with which someone could attempt to make a deal was this – “I’ll be your best friend!” Social media is a lot like grade school. Friendship has devolved into a fleeting promise.
As Candace and I have been having some pretty weighty discussions over the past day, she questioned how many real friends I have. (For the purpose of this discussion, I’m counting the term “real friend” as that person who you could talk to about positively anything. They’re the one you think of when things go great or go poorly.) Not out of spite, but simple curiosity. The sad answer is that I have one real friend, three or four with whom I am close, and then a lot who fall somewhere outside of that inner realm.
This realization made me consider what we’re doing to ourselves via this ever-present social society in which we live. If you were to look at my numbers alone, here’s what you’d find:
- I follow 377 people on Twitter, 7,000+ follow me
- I’m “friends” with 332 people on Facebook
- I have 21 people with whom I’m connected on Path
Yet my true friend? She exists only on one of these networks, and it’s not Path, which is supposed to be the tightest knit of all social circles. That’s not to downplay my Path connections. They’re people about whom I genuinely care, but it’s interesting that I wouldn’t pick up the phone and call them if I needed life help.
I work from home. I rarely go into the city to meet with people. I don’t miss the office environment, but I will admit that life from your home office can get very lonely. I am connected, on some level, with these hundreds of people, yet I’ve never had a time in my life when I’ve felt more alone.
The cost of our connected lives is that we’ve devalued what the word friend truly means. What’s interesting to me is the divide that has been created between being able to form relationships with more people, while simultaneously ruining the idea of true friendship.
My personal challenge is to stop overvaluing these tenuous, social connections and to form more relationships that actually matter. It’s not easy, when you choose a life that keeps you separated, but I’m up for the task.