Define Friendship …

Jose VilsonJose8 Comments

“Add ____ as a friend.”

“Befriend ____”

“Accept or reject this friend?”

Social networks these days have utterly confounded the term “friendship.” OK, that and the growing ambiguity in romantic relationships in which “It is what it is” and “it’s complicated” have become acceptable labels for a relationship status. The term friend becomes even more confused when people don’t learn to categorize and prioritize. I hate to say it, but friends more often than not need to be boxed in before they can move out of that box.

Back when my understanding of friends was a little too permissive, I had friends left and right, and I tried too hard to keep them around, but eventually, I ended up suffering because they didn’t meet my standards, the little that I had. Then I had other friends who just wanted to remain friends when I was thinking that we were becoming more than that. Of course, that’s all types of awkward, but worth going through nonetheless. Then there’s the person you call a friend because you develop a really deep connection with them from the jump, and for a while, they’re the go-to person for every and anything, but after a while, they’re little more than a flame in the dark, ready to extinguish once the darkness becomes overwhelming.

What are friends for if they can’t teach you anything else besides what it means to be a friend? My friend and mentor Cynthia, who I wish I could mention by full name because she’s that awesome, showed me how her “Rings of Friendship” work. She presented this over 6 years ago, so excuse me if I just interpolate.

I’ve found myself using this model time and again with friends, and really, it’s saved a lot of time and energy worrying about whether or not I should pay certain people x amount of time when they pay me a minuscule a. Granted, my real life ring of friendship looks more like this:

Of course, within those friends, they each have a special interest they represent. Some are there for emotional support (tends to be the women) and some are there for parties and what I can’t call anything else besides male bonding. Some are good professional friends, but not good out-of-work friends. Some of my friends are good for going to parties, but as far as having deep and intricate conversation, never that. Sometimes it gets deeper than that, where I might favor a friend because I might just need someone to listen without necessarily finding direct solutions on the spot, while others are perfect for the latter.

Maybe what I find most interesting is that many of the people in that gold circle I’ve met on the Internet. I’ve probably met more than 100 people that I’ve interacted with at some point and time first through the World Wide Web. The irony that I’m finding good friends through a place I also feel is diluting the word doesn’t elude me. Yet, I also found that Facebook friends who I met in other venues first don’t even say hi in real life. I guess that’s why so many people only have their “true” friends added to them.

And I’ve heard many a mantra of what a real friend is. The friends-are-there-for-a-reason-season-lifetime doesn’t strike me as too deep anymore, and I don’t consider someone who got into jail with me a friend any more than the person who’s there bailing me out; I’d rather sleep on my bed than on a slab of concrete with a cell mate whose trying to sleep on me. I’m good. What good is a friend who sends you friendship e-mails all the time but never drops a line to say hi? What good is a friend that only wants you to plug their latest fad but never asks you how you’re doing? No, scratch that: what good is any friend that doesn’t want to know how you’re doing?

In turn, I always have this sense of who warrant my utmost attention and who doesn’t deserve all of that. Even when they don’t realize it, anyone who starts becoming less important in my life gets moved to the wayside, and leave room for people who really want it to come into my life. That golden spot in my ring of friendship is really hard to get into, as I’m just as comfortable riding solo as I am with an entourage of 50 or more. And like I’ve said before, I have 2000+ friends on MySpace, and 800+ friends on Facebook, and another 100+ spread across the nets, but I would most certainly call the majority of them acquaintances. Percentage-wise, only a handful make it into the “I’ll call you up if I need something” territory.

So I ask once again, what’s a friend? How do you define a friend?

jose, who gets by with a little help from mine …

Comments 8

  1. for me.. a friend, and when i say friend i mean inner circle level.. is some one i can count on in the clutch.. I have always been a believer in the whole “a friend shows themselves in tough times” mantra ( its bad hack job of what i think was once a MLK Jr. quote). quite simply I regard true friends to be the family I have chosen.. with that I am out.. piece and blessings.

  2. Does me being early to comment on this say anything about our friendship status?


    I enjoyed this babe. Although I have always strugged with all these sites and their social networks. I guess at heart I am a pretty private person and I am selective about who I say is a friend. Just cause people who I am friends with, I am indebted to should they need me. I just am not willing to commit to supporting that many people

    You know me though. I am nice to everyone.


    Jose and his million friends. At least I am one of the first from the web.

    kisses and goodnight babe.

  3. What’s My Definition of A Friend?

    Well, A person that you can rely on for support (emotional, social, sometimes physical). I definitely do understand where you’re coming from though. I have different sets of friends as well, and I find it refreshing to be exposed to different viewpoints on different things. A friend is a person that you have a connection with.

  4. I have many wonderings about your post and some I will share when we have our intricate conversations. lol

    The definition of friendship varies and it has a alot to do with people’s worldview. Looking at your graphic organizer of the circles of friendship, I find it very interesting that even your golden circle is labeled “really good friend” and not “best friend.” Just an observation. This means of communication is very different because even though it seems so impersonal at times, from your post I can infer that it has allowed you to meet many people, but you have actually developed “friendships” which are meaningul and mutually supportive. I guess what it exemplifies, is that the true definition and/or nature of friendship does exist in various forums.

    My mom always said that you knew who your real friends were in the following circumstances:

    1- if one was in the hospital/sick
    2- if one was present when friends were in difficult predicaments such
    as jail, financial difficulties, etc
    3- if one was going through a very difficult moment emotionally such as the loss of a loved one, divorces/break-ups, etc

    My inner circle of friends is relatively small and they have been in my life for many years and at different stages of my life. It is important to let them know how grateful we are for having them in our lives.

    My question for you though is the following, In what circle does the significant other fall into? Just a wondering.

  5. Interesting post and AMAZING picture. Loved the picture.

    I think social networks use the word friend in the meaning of ‘acquaintance’. It is true that some people that have added me on facebook don’t even say ‘hi’ in real life. Facebook is a way to map out your social circle. Besides it’s a helpful tool to stay in touch with real friends.

    I also met many of my real friends through the internet. It’s a great way to find like minded people.

  6. just a quick note to thank you for having to clean the coffee out from off the screen and in between the keys of my laptop after a closer look at this post’s lead image…

    …who says you can’t pick your friend’s nose?

    lol :)

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