Monday, January 11, 2010

Are you my friend?

What exactly is a friend?

The world of social networking has radically altered how we use that word. It used to be a lot easier to know if someone truly was a friend or simply an acquaintance, a classmate, a coworker, or a neighbor.

I’ve been grappling with this issue in Facebook as I’ve “purged” some people from my list of friends. Is everyone on my list truly a “friend” or have I sunk to the level of using that word to describe anyone with whom I have some kind of interaction — even if that interaction hasn’t happen since we worked together a decade ago, attend class together in junior high, or interacted a few times when I was a staff pastor?

So far, I don’t have any solid answers. I know that I’ve dropped some “friends” on Facebook who might be hurt that we aren’t “friends” anymore, but did we really still have an ongoing friend relationship? If we visited each other’s city, would we call or email or text in advance so we could get together? If we lived in the same town, would we go to dinner together or hang out with the same group of friends or invite each other into our homes? If one of us was facing a terminal illness, would we spend time with the other or take the family meals or do something else tangible?

In the year 2010, I’m afraid we’ve dumbed down the word “friend” just like we previously dumbed down the word “love.”

How do YOU know if someone is truly a friend? How do YOU differentiate between friends and acquaintances? Do YOU think we’ve dumed down the word “friend”?

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