- what do I mean by that?
There are so many different ways of defining a ‘friend’! Maybe you immediately think of your facebook friends – they can run into thousands!
Or, at this time of year, with Christmas approaching, perhaps you’d take your answer from the number of people on your Christmas card list? Twenty, fifty, one hundred . . . ?
If you narrow it down to people you see regularly and know by name, at work, in your neighbourhood, at church, on the internet even . . . that could amount to a fair number!
But are they real ‘friends’? Certainly not necessarily when it comes to the facebook ‘friends’ – sometimes they can seem to be more like some sort of status-enhancing currency. ‘You ‘friend’ me and I’ll ‘friend’ you.’ I think Google+ has cottoned on to this by allowing us to distinguish between 'friends' and other categories of people we want to stay in touch with.
And the Christmas cards? Who hasn’t vowed to stop sending them to people we’ve had no contact with for years, only to relent when a card arrives from them?
And then there are those, who although they are not ‘unfriendly’ , would be better described as ‘acquaintances’.
So what if we only have a few real friends? Does it matter? Is it something to be ashamed of?
A neighbour – and friend! – told me that seven is generally found to be the magic number for a group and you’ll find this in many walks of life. Research has also shown that most of us have an average of half a dozen true friends. Which makes a nonsense of a lot of the social networking sites. I know that I begin to feel overwhelmed when too many people join an online group that I’m part of. There’s a natural limit to how many people can play a meaningful part in our lives.
Looking back, there have been many times in my life when I was part of a group of six of seven – at University, in certain neighbourhoods and organisations and even online – and this number has worked very well for me.
So how would you define a real ‘friend’?
I suspect there would be a difference between the male and the female answer to this question and maybe the meaning of the word has evolved over time.
It amuses me that Poirot often introduces his friend, Captain Hastings, as his ‘associate’! Likewise Sherlock Holmes and his ‘companion’, Dr Watson; though his profound shock when he believes Watson to have been fatally wounded suggests a much deeper relationship and he does go so far to refer to him as his ‘friend and companion’ and even his ‘faithful friend’.
There are a great many wonderful quotations defining ‘a friend’ and in challenging times, I often think of the Beatles line, ‘I’ll get by – with a little help from my friends’.
But this is my favourite –
|Sorry this is so pale - it's just a sketch for a possible future card.|
How many of our facebook ‘friends’ can do that?
(By the way, just thought I'd mention that you can find some lovely 'Friendship' Greeting Cards in Cheri Overcracker's CardGnome shop!)