Thursday, 27 October 2011

How Many Friends Do You Have?

 - 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!)


Cheri's Sweetshoppe said...

You've echoed a lot of my own thoughts! I am one of those who never really cared for the whole facebook I am a private person who doesn't relish the thought of people who barely know me reading my every status update, or viewing my life through photos. Guess I'm just a stick-in-the-mud.. lol One of my closest confidants is a 74 yr. old invalid, who has been an adopted mother and best friend all rolled into one. I believe true friends are not bound by age. I enjoyed reading your thoughts & thanks for mentioning my store=)

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you for your comment, Cheri. I'm sure you're not a stick-in-the-mud - some people are just more 'private' than others.

I really like your cards and hope that CardGnome will get better known soon!

Jean said...

Judy, This is a very thought provoking subject. I'm careful when it comes to facebook and forums. You are one of the few that I have met online that I feel I can trust.
That sketch should be a definite future card.
Hugs to you my internet friend.:)

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you, Jean, for your very kind comments - I'm honoured and would like to return the compliment :)

I'm not getting much time for actual designing at the moment, but the bird sketch is near the top of my list for when I do get some time.

Carole Barkett said...

I think the word may have evolved and I agree with Jean that you are one of the few who actually care. I think that when you do care too many are overwhelming.
I can't wait to see it as a card, it's going to be lovely.
I love both the quotes they're so true.

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you, Carole.

Interesting point you make about the word 'friend' evolving. Certainly in the days of 'Poirot' and 'Sherlock Holmes' it seems to have been used more sparingly. I wonder how others would define a 'friend' nowadays?

Betsy Grant said...

What an interesting post. I think everyone has a slightly different view on what a friend is, and there are certainly different levels of friendship - everything from close personal - to universal You are such a good writer!

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you, Betsy.

Yes, the different levels of friendships and how we define them are fascinating - I think it probably has something to do with the extent to which we feel we can confide in a person. But to go into that would probably have made for a very long post indeed!

art2cee2 said...

I am picky with who I "friend" on facebook...and ok, a scant few I have never met in person but I consider my are one of those.

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Crystal - thank you for your comment and I feel honoured to be one of your friends. You have such a wonderful blog and I'm just sorry I don't find more time to keep up with it!

pharmacy said...

It's an important blog, I couldn't believe what you posted above. It was amazing!

Cherie Balowski said...

I define a real friend by being friends with them. There is no defining them, my online friends are just that. My friends who are 'tangible' that I see offline, are just the same. They are as real to me as my online friends, and vice versa. I would love to meet everyone I know online in person, truly! But alas, they may never truly happen, not everyone of them anyway.

I appreciate the friendship of every one of my friends, offline as well as online. I'm very grateful for them all!


Judy Adamson said...

Hi Cherie - thank you for stopping by and leaving your thoughtful comments! I agree with you that online or offline isn't always of any significance. In fact I realise that my online friends probably understand the way I'm leading my life, even though I haven't met them in person, far better than my offline friends do!