What about your friends?

I had every intention of writing about a totally different topic. But while I was out running an errand, my mind got to wandering (as it often does). Somehow I ended up on the topic of what a “real” friend is (vs. the people we refer to as “friends” on social networks).

I’ll admit that I have “friends” on Facebook I’ve never met in person. Those numbers are pretty small, but I met these people through mutual friends. I enjoy the conversations we have, and some of them have become sources of encouragement and laughter. However, I’d classify them as acquaintances instead of friends. This isn’t a bad thing, and I’d suspect that they’d say the same about me. Perhaps over time, we will develop a more substantial relationship that can grow into friendship.

However, in my opinion the term “friend” should be used loosely in social networks. We should be careful not to put acquaintances in the friends column if they’re not quite there, yet. So how do you know? What is a friend? These are just a few thoughts that come to mind. A friend:

  • has most likely seen you cry (and has maybe even seen the “ugly” cry)
  • knows at least one embarrassing story about you (either because they were there when it happened, or you felt comfortable enough to share the story with them)
  • knows something about your hopes and dreams – and your failures
  • knows your strengths as well as you do – and can encourage you when you’re struggling with self-doubt
  • has an “inside joke” in common with you

There are many more traits that could be on this list, depending on the length of your friendship; but this is a good start. What do you think?