Today’s evolving social environment has many of us thinking about the definition of friendship. I’ll admit, I’ve always had a lot of friends. I’m an extrovert; I love hearing people’s stories; I’m always up for fun; and I rarely give advice, unless I’m asked for it. Even my friends would describe me as having a lot of friends. However, during a recent text string with three friends (two male, one female) discussing our friend’s recent tryst with a neighbor, one of the males in the string interrupted the flow by saying, “The thing I love about our little group is that there is no judging. The only thing that sets us apart from a lot of other friends is that we are honest.” In an online landscape littered with Facebook friends, as well as Instagram and Twitter followers, has social media skewed our definition of “friendship?”
The Definition of Friendship
Dictionary.com defines friendship as “the state of being a friend; association as friends” and, “a friendly relation or intimacy.” Not the enlightenment I was looking for when I asked myself what is friendship. So, I looked to Facebook for inspiration.
I have a like/dislike relationship with Facebook. It’s like an on again, off again boyfriend for me. When things are happy, inspirational, encouraging and uplifting, I can’t get enough of it. When it starts telling me how to think, feel, what to buy, and gets passive-aggressive, I take a break and deactivate. I believe my most recent break is permanent.
What is a Friend?
To me, Facebook is the equivalent of the cyber Christmas letter. It’s show and tell for all of our “friends” about our perfect lives, genius children, stellar decorating skills, and all of the fun parties and events that we’re invited to and our “friends” aren’t. I had a coworker tell me she evaluated whether a friend request would get approved based on whether or not that person would attend her funeral. If the answer in her head was “yes,” the person was approved. Her definition of friendship hinges on funeral attendance.
I’m not on Twitter, but I do have an Instagram account (melchakar). Instead of using the term “friends,” both sites use the term “followers.” This term seems less forced, and I also appreciate that they’re calling it what it is… voyeurism. “Follower” sounds less salacious than “stalker” or “creeper.” However, I’ve noticed something on Instagram. It’s a trend to use the hashtag “besties” and/or “blessed” along with your photos.
Best Friend Definition
I understand having best friends. I’m fortunate to have some. But I often wonder how some of the people I’m following define “besties” as they use the hashtag with almost every photo that features others with them. Is everyone “#besties,” or is this the new generic term for “friends?”
#blessed often goes along with these photos. But are you really? To me, people I’m following use the term “blessed” incorrectly. What they’re usually referring to is being “privileged.” If a person has come through a long treatment plan of chemo and radiation and is now in remission, that definitely earns the hashtag “blessed.” If I share a photo of a fabulous beach resort while I’m sipping fruity cocktails with my #besties, I’m not blessed. I’m #fortunate #privileged #icanceledmypremiumcablefortenmonthstopayforthisvacation.
The dictionary, as well as social media, was no help for me while searching for the definition of friendship, so here’s what I came up with for myself. How I categorize my “friends”…
- The person(s) I’d call if I were in jail and needed bail money
- The person(s) who would bring me a casserole when I got home from the hospital
- The person(s) who would clean out the bedside table drawer (yes, THAT drawer) while I was in jail/hospital/the morgue and destroy the evidence before my children came to visit
- Everyone else
If you’re lucky, you have at least one or two people who fall in one of the top three categories. If you have multiple people who fall in all of the top three categories as I do, you’re #blessed. What is friendship, to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the definition of friendship.