The word “friend” has many meanings, and we have many types of friends. The term has taken on new meaning the in the era of social media. So, what kind of friend are you? What kind of friends are your friends? What does your method of relating to friends say about your depth of friendship?
Part One of this series asks about a variety of friends that aren’t really friends. What about your social networking friends? Are you a fake friend to them? Are they acting like fake friends toward you?
First off, we all have many more acquaintances than true friends. We call these people friends, but are they really friends? Certainly not in the same way our intimate friends are.
You probably won’t tell an acquaintance that her blouse really is horribly unflattering on her. That kind of honesty is reserved for more intimate friends.
You probably won’t tell an acquaintance that you’re worried about their health because they’re constantly gaining weight. That depth of concern is generally reserved for intimate friends.
So what are the parameters of an acquaintance relationship? It looks something like this, regarding most people:
- Acquaintances don’t rock the boat. They will generally avoid doing or saying anything that might be controversial.
- Acquaintances don’t hold each other accountable, except for specific commitments made to each other.
- Acquaintances generally act “nice and friendly” toward each other, even if that’s not what’s going on internally. That is, they are not authentic with each other.
- Acquaintances keep their distance, and don’t reveal too much about themselves. They generally keep anything of potential controversy or disagreement secret.
Co-workers are a special category of acquaintance. In addition to the above mentioned acquaintance parameters we might include a few additions:
- Co-workers do not generally say or do things they suspect may get them fired or demoted.
- Co-workers do generally say or do things they suspect may get them hired into a new job or promoted in the existing one.
- Some co-workers will even generally say or do things at the expense of other co-workers in order to advance their own self-interests.
In essence, this makes a co-worker an acquaintance that is slightly less trustworthy than a non-coworker acquaintance. Also, note that the omissions will be based on suspicions, not actuality.
These are people who claim to be friends, but are not. They are not trustworthy. They lie. They may cheat or steal from friends as well.
A fake friend will sit there and listen to you spout nonsense all day, and never challenge a bit of it. They’re not interested in truth. They just want to be near you for some reason, and they’re willing to say or do whatever (or not say or not do whatever) in order to keep being around you.
They are not about truth, loyalty, or any of the characteristics associated with a true friend.
Think of these like a celebrity’s posse. They follow the celebrity around nodding and cosigning all their bullshit. All they really want is to be near the famous dude. If the famous guy asks, “what’s your opinion,” his fake posse will give whatever answer they think he wants to hear…not the truth.
Are You One of These Friends?
Take a moment to consider your relationships with people you call friends in your life. Do they fit one of the categories on this page? What about the people in your friend list on social networking sites? Do they fit one of these categories, and do you fit one of these categories with respect to them? How does that effect your online relating? Could you relate differently than you do now? What would happen if you did?