Thursday, 17 November 2011

Friendship and what it means to me.

3 blogs in one week steady on! Sign of a bit too much time on my hands to ponder on things I think. 

This blog was inspired by 'A Thrifty Mrs' blog see here earlier this week. My first thought on reading it was 'wow you need to tell these people to fuck right off and find some real friends, because the behaviour you are describing is not the behaviour of what I would call a friend'.  Having read the post through again and the many replies to it, on the whole I was thoroughly depressed by the knowledge that there are so many people out there who don’t seem to have any friends.

I agree that there is a case for blaming the internet. It scares me to think that there is a whole generation of kids who are apparently growing up lacking any kinds of social skills because they no longer interact on a physical person to person level. I see my nephew who is 17 with 534 ‘friends’ on Facebook, a vast majority of whom he has never, ever met or spoken to, and probably never ever will.    

However the phrase ‘Facebook is Friendship Bullshit’ galls.

 It doesn’t have to be, and certainly isn’t for me! but then I don’t accept any old request or friend suggestion willy nilly on my account. I also have my account on the highest security settings I can.

For me it is a fantastic way of keeping in touch with the friends and family that I have who live overseas. I can share news and photos, and it is a great way to chat if we happen to coordinate ourselves around time zones!
For information I have 128 friends on Facebook and yes there are a handful of those who would go if I were having a cull, but only a handful. The rest are there because they really are friends. They are people I care about and so I am interested in knowing what they are doing. There are the mates I go out to the pub with, there are the girlfriends I go shopping with, there are the old friends I go out for the day with, there are the people I only hook up with a couple of times a year. There are also the dear friends who I might not see from one year to the next, but who are close to my heart. The kind of people I can be myself with and know we can pick up right where we left off no matter how much time has gone by.  

To digress for a moment, a lot of the replies to the above mentioned post were along the 'my husband is my best friend why do I need anyone else' line. personally I am cautious with the whole ‘my partner is my best friend’ thing. Yes Himself is the love of my life, and Yes he is the most important person in my life, but I don’t think of him as my best friend. That position is currently shared by Jenny and Soo, my oldest and dearest friends, who were both there long before him!
 In the same way I know in his life that honour belongs to the two Pauls, again both of whom were solid in his life long before I came along! 
I don't think it is healthy to devote your whole being to just one person and their happiness.

Now I am the first to point out that it has taken me all of my 43 years on this earth to get to this stage. I have had my fair share of frenemies, drama queens, emotional leeches and users over the years. Once upon a time I used to keep making the effort with these people, I'd keep bending over backwards for no return. I was worn down and miserable on far too many occasions. However I would say the qualities of my true friends, and the self belief and wisdom that comes with age got me to the point where enough was enough. I realised I was giving and giving for no return and being emotionally bled dry. So I made the conscious decision to cut these people out of my life and not look back. It was an incredibly freeing experience.

Ultimately I know there are many more wonderful people out there, and new friends to be made as I move on through life. People will leave my life but new ones will join it and I embrace that. I guess life has taught me thus far. That you have to be open to new experiences and go into them with an open heart.
On the flip side I will point firmly out, that there is a fine line between being open hearted and being a doormat!
You have to have open eyes as well as an open heart. When someone is not good for you, you should walk away, end of, no third/fourth/fifth chances.

Maybe as A Thrifty Mrs says for some people having no friends works. I just know for me it most definitely would not and my life would be a hollow, colourless thing without my friends.


  1. Absolutely brilliant post, I agree with everything you've written.
    For me Facebook is a wonderful way of keeping in touch with people I've met at festivals or travelling through India. I've connected with old school friends I've lost touch with and friends who emigrated abroad years ago and before I discovered Twitter it was a way to connect with blog friends I'd grown close to.

    I've had the same friends for years, Jon's probably my closest friend but I agree that it's unhealthy to live in each other's pockets and it's good to socialise with lots of different people to keep life fresh and exciting.

    Although I adore my real-life friends they are quite different to me. Some of my blogging friends are like long-lost sisters and it's brilliant to have found women I have so much in common with, we can talk for hours on Skype every week.

  2. I totally agree with you. I'm a relative latecomer to Facebook and I love it! I can keep up with friends from all over the place, old school friends and family in Wales, not forgetting blogger friends.
    As far as my 'real friends' go, I wouldn't be without 'em. I won't put up with emotional vampire types and 'friends' who only take. Times to precious to waste on knobbers!

  3. I have to agree. I have friends on FB from Cambridge to Canada - this comes from having penpals since the age of 13. I have never met these people - but they *are* my friends. Facebook, like much of the net and social sites are what you make them, I guess.

    Being a doormat is NEVER good, which is why i told a lot of people to poke off a while back. Ahhh - the relief! Hence, those were the people culled. *wink*

  4. This is one of the best blog posts I have read for ages! Completely agree with what you have said. I think its a generation thing, I too only have 100 or so 'friends' on Facebook, but I least I know personally (almost) each and every one, in contrast my 17 yr old niece has 600+ 'friends'. In reality, I can count my true friends on one hand, but like Vix says, I have little in common interest wise with my oldest best friends, so I belong to craft groups, and really enjoy blogging and twitter to connect with like minded folk. I suppose our generation (the 30s and 40s gang) are quite lucky really that we have the best of both worlds :)

  5. Great post and thanks for linking to mine.
    I can see that Facebook offers great things and keep people in contact at the click of a mouse but for me it just didn't work. It depressed me. I only added people I'd met several times and would consider (at the point of adding) a friend. For me, it seems, once added on Facebook my friends no longer felt the need to see me in the real world, our friendship came down to a click on the like button every now and then. I don't have a complete downer on Facebook, I use it for work purposes and it can be a fab tool for lots of people but for me it led to nothing but depression. I think people have different friendship styles and no one style is right, it just so happens mine doesn't suit Facebook.

    It took me A LOT to walk away from people I'd called friends for a long time, it took a lot to delete Facebook when those I have cared about for a long time will use it as their only real form of contact. I don't want to be stuck with only my husband and best friend for company but for me, I'm in a far better head space without the crap friends and Facebook than I was a week ago.

    Facebook in my social circle does mean bullshit. If they can like a status update but not come to see me in hospital then it IS bullshit, at least in my social circle. But I'm glad it works for others, I think it can be a great tool if there is a bit of mutual respect, sadly that was lacking in the case you mention above - I.e. Mine.

  6. Hmm yeah FB. I don't consider many people on there to be friends. The internet isn't reality. I only consider people I have met and have a connection with to be friends; that connection that can be picked up, no matter how long it is since you have spoken to them or seen them.

    And as for walking away....I had a falling out with my chief bridesmaid at my hen night, a month before the wedding. She called me the next day and said she didn't want to do it anymore - fine by me as I had reached the same conclusion. My husband sometimes says to me that he is shocked she never contacted me again. I'm not - she was a selfish prick and never thought she did anything wrong, despite other people commenting on her behaviour. I feel happier without her in my life now.

  7. what a fantastic post and a great way to start a discussion. For me FB keeps me in touch with friends who I dont see often, allows me to share instantly what I am up to with my family and to keep in touch with friends who live oversees. It is cheaper to converse via skype and MSN than phone mexico or New Zealand. I have 111 friends and I know each and every one of them. They have been friends and colleagues through my years. I am stil shocked that I have known that many people. However I do understand how it could lead to sadness and depression for a Thrifty Mrs too. I sometimes feel sad that the only way some people interact is via the internet. I like a mixture. I think the shedding of emotional vampires comes with age. I have done a fair bit of that lately.

  8. A few years back, I had a close group of four friends I had met through the punk scene, we would do everything together and see each other nearly every day while we were at different universities in the same city. Now every single one of them has moved away back to their towns of origin, one got married in July and didn't even invite me to her wedding - just goes to show I value friendships far more than those I devote myself to, and it's not the first time it has happened.

    One of them I still consider to be a close friend. She doesn't live too far away but is always skint, as am I, so we relish the occasional times when we can afford a visit and genuinely miss each other in between.

    Another is getting married next year and plans to get the group together on her hen night, I have a sneaking suspicion that things might turn awkward as we find we don't have anything to talk about except the past.

    In a way I like facebook, as it means I can stay in contact with people I've met a few times and get to know them better, hopefully forging friendships for the future but for now just having pleasant acquaintances. I meet a lot of people through my work and through blogging who share my love of vintage and crafts, who I would desperately love to be real friends with but never get the chance to see socially due to money or distance.

    I also have two old friends who I only see every few months but know will be there until the end for me, and I have a boyfriend who really is my best friend.