Why can’t we be friends?

Back in May I went to Portugal on holiday.  My time there coincided with a school reunion.  Having left Portugal at 13 I’d not seen many of these people in the intervening 20 years. However, I decided to go, both through curiosity of what my friends/school looked like and part through a desire to assert my Portuguese-ness by re-connecting with some Portuguese people other than family and old family friends.  It was also an opportunity to show my wife and kids a part of my life that they’d not seen before.

I’ve also just finished reading The Day I Turned Uncool by Dan Zevin which talks about the changes that occur as you move into adulthood.  One of the chapters of the book deals with friendships and how and why you lose touch with people (perceived lack of time, lack of common interests, relationships and kids).

It got me thinking about how social networking is affecting our friendships.  And what I think is this – we now have more ‘friends’ than ever, but to me many are just superficial, voyeuristic and purposeless.

I’ll admit, when Facebook first started my aim was to get as many friends as possible but as I started to see what people were updating and the new features Facebook brought in (which exacerbated the problem) it felt even more so.

I know this sounds harsh but I think everyone divides their friends into friends & acquaintances. Friends, you care about and want to know about.  Acquaintances, you don’t mind seeing them and saying hello every once in a while. Unfortunately the ratio tends to be 1:15 or so in favour of the latter.

I still think Facebook is great for getting in touch with people you’ve not seen in a while, but do I really want to see the video that someone likes of two kittens falling from a chair? NO!  I’d rather just say “Hi, let’s organise a reunion!” and leave it at that.  I don’t want to know the ins and out of their mundane life (I have one of my own thanks very much).

So I’ve dealt with it by cleansing myself and my wall by un-friending a fair few acquaintances whose updates I don’t care for.  If I wish to get in touch with them I will go through my ‘real’ friends.

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