Wednesday, 29 June 2011

On friends

I think the word "friends" is rapidly becoming the most abused in the entire English language, thanks to its casual use on social networking sites. I generally use Tweetdeck for my Twitter account, for example, and the fact that the aggregated column of all the latest tweets from the people you follow is entitled "All friends" with no way of changing it always sticks in my craw.

It's not that it isn't a nice thing to say, or not a useful shorthand. It's that it's inaccurate. Some of the people whose tweets will spring up there are indubitably my friends. But I follow 140 accounts on Twitter (neat, huh?). I would think that at about half of those are not people who I would immediately think of as friends. I would be highly surprised if any of those people would think of me as their friend, either. Many of them are people I'm friendly with and all of them I like, or am at the very least sufficiently interested in to invite directly into my face on a daily basis.

I can't imagine it's just me who feels this way, although I'm entirely readily believe that people who feel so indignant as to go on about it are in a minority. But it's a big deal to me, the word 'friend'. I can't think of any other title I would relish or treasure more. I don't like to use it lightly, and personally speaking my little heart always skips a beat with joy, excitement and honour when someone whom I consider to be a friend also describes me as such. In the past few years I've come to really understand more about the nature of true friendship, and it seems to be an odd thing to use as a throwaway term of convenience.

Incidentally, the titular character in the TV sitcom Friends were definitely friends. So let's not be hating.

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