What are Friends

by Ian McKenzie 3 months ago in friendship

More than a Facebook Add

What are Friends

A search engine check with “friends” as the subject gave a large list of results. The first, in fact, the first three all listed the American sitcom television series “Friends”. With a cast including; Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc; the series certainly had well-known personalities involved. Running for ten seasons from 1994 to 2004, the show was obviously popular as well.

The series dominating the home page of the listings in the search for “friends” did arouse my curiosity and interest. So much interest in a sitcom series! It is a show that personally I have never watched. I must differ from the vast majority of the population in having an interest in sitcoms and reality TV shows that ranges from a very little to absolute zero. There is a television in my living room which does get turned on generally for a few hours, several nights each week. But, the shows I watch are mostly; news, current events, documentaries and the occasional drama series or movie. My preference normally would be to be working on the computer, reading or working on one of my current projects. Okay, so you think I am boring! Perhaps you are right.

From television back to the computer and the search I did for “friends”. There were other listings that were not as prominent as those for the TV series. These included; a dating site, pictures and videos of friends, and friends on sites such as Instagram.

The dating site got me thinking about girl friends and boy friends. Most of us have had, or still have, both. However, our attitude toward either gender will depend firstly upon our own gender, and whether we consider ourselves to be heterosexual, homosexual, or perhaps bisexual.

Let me discuss a few of my thoughts on adding friends on social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook. These social networking sites have given a completely new meaning to the term “friends”.

Some people aim at adding as many friends as possible to these sites that they control. And, they do this for very good reasons. Marketing has changed incredibly in recent years. Product suppliers look for people with many followers to help promote their products. There are many of these social influence-rs who are making a good full-time income through promoting products on sites such as Instagram and Facebook. We can question the term “friends” for these people with regard to their followers on these sites. But, I suppose if people are helping you make money it is okay to class them as friends.

Personally I could not be bothered with the effort of obtaining large numbers of “friends” on social media sites. I should qualify that statement. I do have a LnkedIn account, and in the past I did try to build up a large number of “friends” I thought may have been useful to me in my business. With regard to Instagram, I have an account for it also, but have not used it for well over a year. People posting on Instagram generally have a mobile phone/camera in their pocket or purse, and they whip it out to photograph their meal, glass of wine, or whatever else takes their fancy. That is a routine that I have never got into, and may be a reason for me not using Instagram regularly. I do have a smart phone, but very seldom use its camera function. Photography is a passion of mine, but I prefer to use cameras which were designed to be used just as cameras. Yes, I know, once again I am the odd person out here. Seeing Facebook posts with a hundred #’s after the post I find annoying. And the time spent adding all these #’s is time that I would rather spend doing other things. I do use Facebook and am usually on the site at my computer at least once daily, but I do not have it on my mobile phone and have no intention of doing so. There is no need for me to be advised every time someone on my “friends’ list makes a post, or “likes” one of mine.

For most people, their friends on social networking sites could perhaps be better referred to as acquaintances. Most they will never meet face-to-face. Granted, there are people who have become very good friends with each other when their first interaction together was online. Some have even married. But, I would suggest these people are in the minority compared with the many casual contacts social net-workers have.

And, is it even possible for anyone to have thousands of friends? I think not!

People had friends before the World Wide Web and its social media sites came into existence just over a quarter of a century ago. Back then, we had a different understanding of what a friend was.

Friends are those with whom we share similar values and maybe goals. Trust is also an important feature of a healthy friend relationship. It is not the number of friends that we have that is important, but the quality of those relationships. Being accepted as you are with all of your faults, as well as positive attributes, are important criteria for quality relationships. And, a quality relationship is not necessarily one which is devoid of any fights or disagreements.

Studies have shown that quality of life is positively influenced more by relationships than it is by; money, power, status, fame, appearance, or anything else. Quality relationships can lead to longer, happier, more fulfilling lives.

Building relationships takes more time and effort than just clicking add as friend. If we are aware of the importance of taking this time and expending the effort, why do not more of us do it?

The answer I believe is in the same category as eating healthfully and exercising regularly. It is hard! And, many of us avoid the things that are hard to do.

Earlier I suggested that it is impossible to have thousands of friends. An understanding of Dunbar’s Number will help explain why this is so. Dunbar’s Number explains that we have a biological limit of maintaining any more than around one hundred and fifty social relationships at the same time.

One way of categorising the friends that you have is by using what is known as The Circle of Intimacy.

Draw four concentric circles on a sheet of paper. Mark the innermost circle “Intimacy”. Mark the next outer circle as “Friendship”, the next as “Participation” and the last as “Exchange”.

The Intimacy group is for the people that you are unable to imagine living without. Your immediate family and really close friends are included here. The next circle, “Friendship”, is for people who are close to you but not considered as intimate friends. “Participants”, the next outer circle could include your co-workers, neighbours, and others you interact with on a regular basis. The outermost circle, “Exchange”, is for those with whom you have transactions; they may be clients or customers, business associates, the local pharmacist or hair dresser etc. The total number of names you have added will probably be less than one-hundred and fifty.

A worthwhile exercise now is to look at the people you have listed and decide which ones you would prefer to have in a more inner circle. After you have made this list, think about the things that would be required for this to occur.

All photographs of friends posted on this site have been taken by me. If you would like to view some other photographs that I have taken, they can be viewed here.

At the time of writing this article, January 2020, much of Australia is being burned by horrific fires. Millions of acres have been burnt, hundreds of homes and businesses have been destroyed, and many people killed. If you would like to read a short poem I have written on the topic, it is available here.

Ian McKenzie
Ian McKenzie
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Ian McKenzie

Lover of life and all it has to offer. Retired from full-time employment, but keeping busy with things I am passionate about including: family, friends, photography, writing, sustainability and keeping Australian native stingless bees.

See all posts by Ian McKenzie