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buster


Buster Benson

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semantics of friendship
bird poops on plum branch
buster
What's your definition of a friend?  If you had to make a list of all of your friends, what criteria would you use?  And how many do you think you would have? 

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I dunno... It always seems weird to me that here and on other social networking sites I have a gazillion friends, since in real life I don't know how many of them I could really ask for a favor without feeling pushy or vice versa. A quick check reveals that I have 82 friends here, 61 on myspace, 23 on ravelry and 88 on friendster. How can I possibly have 82 friends? I don't feel that popular, but that's how many people I let into my journal here -- everything else is locked. I decided early on friendster that I wasn't going to friend people that I wasn't going to take the time to know and I carried that attitude here and to other sites, so many of those people I've friended are people I've decided to actually read and talk to [you included].

When I was in high school, one of my friends [see? there's that word again, even though I barely knew her and haven't seen her since graduation...] complained that in English we didn't have many words for friend. It bothered her because in Russian class, they'd learned all these useful words for friend that had a lot of shades of meaning and were really useful. I remember saying at the time that we had buddy and acquaintance, but we really only have one blandly useful word... Friend is egalitarian, but I worry that it'll become the bare minimum if we let it. Now I describe my inner circle of people as "close friends" or talk about how long I'd known them or what we'd done together. If I'd described my friend from high school as just an acquaintance, I'd feel icky about it, as if I was taking her down a peg for being uninteresting, not for being someone I just never got to know...

I keep leaving novels over here... Sorry about that!

Interesting... so are you saying that you define a friend as someone you are willing to take the time to know and interact with regularly? The fuzziness of the word is definitely a problem, especially if you're going to publicly limit the usage of the word for people who don't make the cut, but that's sort of what I'm trying to figure out I guess. If a new word was going to be invented to replace the meaning of what a friend is to us, then what definition would it have?

Well, when I was a kid, I only considered my friends to be the people I was actually close to and enjoyed hanging out with. Everyone else was just someone I knew or went to school with or whatever.

I don't mind using friend to describe people I know, but I wish there was a word between "close friend" and "friend".

As an adult, I would define a friend as someone you had a good conversation with at least once -- enough to get you over those intial barriers so you both feel like you have half a clue who the other person is. "Regularly" is to taste... I've fallen back into friendliness easily with people I've known a long time but haven't seen for years, although I have a hard time doing that with people from my hometown. From the middle of high school onwards, though, I've found that I still enjoy the same basic type of people...

If they consistently make me laugh they're my friend. Not a very strict criteria, but tough to achieve.

If I feel like they'd have my back in a bar fight, they're my friend. :)

i'm not really sure what my criteria are - i'd have to give it more thought. but thinking about this did make me realize that i have different ideas as to what a girl_friend is as opposed to my guy_friends. weird huh? i think i have far more guy friends than girl friends, but i also think it's b/c i'm a bit more protective about letting new girls into my inner friend circle. iiiiinteresting.

people who accept me "as is" are called friend. people who do so and call me out on the "as is" when it's warranted are the inner circle.

for friends, i probably have between 10 and 15. i'd have to do some counting. inner circle is about half of those.

second tier friends, though-- i've got enough of those to keep me entertained pretty much constantly.

Didn't you say in some post long ago that friends were people who would help you move or take you to the airport? Since reading that I've thought that was a pretty reasonable definition.


iawtc. or visit me in the hospital too

I think friends are people who don't ask for help moving or for rides from the airport. But that's just me...

a true sister is what i look for.

Off the top of my head...

My closest friends - have been through/shared a lot of experiences with me, trust me with their most naked thoughts and vice versa. People who I can spend infinite time in silence with. People whom I feel comfortable reaching out to for help, companionship, company and whom I feel like I would also always be there for them the same way. People who put up with my crap and whose crap I put up with.

Another layer of friends are people who I enjoy being around. I may not share my deepest thoughts with them but we've lots of shared experiences. We seek each other's company out. Help each other out to some extent.

There are lots of people who I like running into. and spending time with by happenstance. But I might not go out of my way to create lots of regular opportunities to hang out. These are people who might under some circumstances become closer friends. I think warmly of them and speak well of them when they do come up in conversation.

I guess those are three very basic categories. There is a difference and a step between being friendly and reaching that first category of friendship. I find that in American society being friendly is a bit of a societal norm for day to day interaction where in some European cultures, being polite suffices. And this norm of being friendly kind of blurs the line between collegial interaction and being friends.

I think, given the lack of a word between friend and close friend, I'd have to go with a pretty broad definition of a friend. If I like them, enjoy spending time with them, and am happy to see them, and they generally feel that way about me, we're friends. I'd say I have about 300.

Close friends, of course, are a very different story.

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