I read an article on the BBC about how social networking is changing the way we interact with our friends. There are people claiming 700 or more FaceBook friends, and a socialite who held a party for 800 of her closest friends.
I recently culled my FaceBook friends – and got it back down to around a hundred. I’m going to have another round, and get it down further – there are still people on there who I worked with many years ago, and all I get from them are messages about them hiding Easter eggs on each others’ profiles (so they are next).
The BBC article reckons most people can count their true best friends on their fingers. I did a ready reckon, and I think I’ve got it down to the fingers of one hand and another finger. My brother, Dan, My mum and my Dad, my friend Pam, and my stepdad Pat. I defined it like this – If a week went by and I didn’t hear from them – I’d be very worried. Between me speaking to them on the phone, texting, emailing – and twitter/FaceBook, I pretty much know where they are on a daily basis, and I’d miss it if I didn’t. The wife doesn’t count – as she’s above all that.
The next level down is just – friends – and is basically the other 3 boys I lived with at uni, and their wives, one old workmate, and 2 school friends of Lisa’s and one of their husbands (the other isn’t part of a couple, but there is no way of defining that in the way I just did) one whole family who've always been close to ours, – and I’d probably add the rest of mine and Lisa's extended families in there too (but family is a bit different too – there are obligations there. I love all my cousins, but I hardly have any contact with one side, and if I wasn’t related to the other half, I doubt we’d be friends (very little in common, but that makes it all the more fun when we’re together).
The being together bit is very important. Whenever (and it isn’t often) we do meet – whether for a holiday, down the pub, or just passing and dropping in for coffee – it is as if we’ve always been best friends and everything is groovy – that’s what being friends is all about. Work colleagues are included here too.
There are of course another class – as Homer’s bar buddies referred themselves – well wishers, cronies, chums and acquaintances. Many of my running club buddies will fall into this category – when I see them we’ll have a great time (particularly at the social events) but if they were gone – I’d not miss many of them. I’m overanalysing here I know – and as I’ve just publicised the running aspects of this blog on the Windmilers message board, I’m considering if this should be published. I don’t want to upset anyone who considers me a closer friend to them, than I consider them to me. (Joanne, Michelle – you know I love you both. I’m generalising here).
The big question is the next level. Here we have the people I wouldn’t call ever, people who’s funerals I wouldn’t go to, but still people I’d be u[set if they died. The most important criteria of course, when I culled this lot, was whether I would be upset if they did the same thing to me. As I’ve blogged before – there are people on FaceBook who’s updates I thoroughly enjoy every time. There are old friends I love to hear from if only in an “I’ve been playing footy” or “I’m playing a computer game”. It is great to know they are happy and doing ok. And I’d miss them if they weren’t letting me know this. I like to think they’d miss mine too, and none of the ones I culled last time seemed to notice (I certainly didn’t get any upset comments, or requests to be friends again, so if they were upset – they didn’t whinge about it to me.
That’s also why twitter (a new addition to my social networking) is so good – I like Stephen fry, so I watch his updates. Stephen Fry doesn’t know me from Adam, so why on earth would he be interested in mine? He’s recently offered to start following his followers, if you ask him to. He has over 300,000 followers, and he’s now following over 55,000 of them. Therefore, he’s not watching their feeds, or anyone else's. He knows he’s using it for his own publicity – I’m not vain enough to want that – I’m pretty vain of course, but without cause. Is it possible to be vain and famous? Or is does fame mean you don’t have to worry about being vain – your vanity is justified.
If someone wants to watch me, but I don’t want to watch them – this is possible. I believe FaceBook might be working on a one way process in the same way, but until then, I’ll risk upsetting people. Sorry to pretty much everyone I went to primary school with, and anyone I worked with years ago, but don’t work with now.