I friend. You friend. He/she friends*

I think a lot about friends. I’ve never had an abundance of friends. I have hundreds of acquaintances – I’ve been collecting them for nearly half a century – and a handful of true friends.

Friendship is built around many things: common interests, shared experiences, mutual respect. And Facebook.Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 3.57.42 PM

Facebook?

Heck, yeah! Facebook – where I have 332 friends. We’re close. Sometimes I see pictures of their pets, learn about what they had for dinner, hear the latest family news.

Sometimes they post pictures of abused animals. They go on racist rants about black Americans or Muslims. They say everyone’s right to carry a gun supersedes anyone’s desire for background checks.

And that’s where it gets weird because my real friends know I don’t want to see pictures of abused animals. I don’t want to hear racist rants. I don’t carry a gun, and I believe anyone who does should be thoroughly vetted and trained in its use.

Yet I feel so guilty about “unfriending” people on Facebook. There are lots of people I like – even some I love – with what I consider to be completely absurd notions of the world. I still want to know how they’re doing. But some of those people really wear me out.

Still it feels sneaky to “unfriend” someone. What kind of friend does that? The kind that doesn’t want to have a conversation. The kind that doesn’t ask why you have a certain opinion. The kind that takes the easy way out. (Yes, I’m thinking of you, the once-dear friend who sent me a friend request, shared life updates and travel plans, promised to call when you were in town and then unfriended me after a couple of months for reasons I do not know.)

It’s all good, though, because in this age of “everyone gets a trophy” having 332 friends is a real boost to my self-esteem. So even if I’m not one of the cool kids, I can still pretend to be popular.

*”Friend” is not a verb. It’s a noun. Add an -ly and it becomes an adjective. But you can’t conjugate the word “friend.” It’s nothing more than another sign of Americans’ incessant need to verbalize the language. See… I just did it.

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