I wanted to start this post by sharing with you my total number of Facebook friends. The number that represents who I am and what I have achieved in the social sphere of the twenty first century. The number that speaks of all of those paths that have crossed and connections that have been made. A number that, ultimately, lies. Because, as we all know, the number of Facebook ‘friends’ a person has bares no correlation to the number of friends they actually have in their lives.
I wanted to share that number but, after numerous new looks for the site and a general shift from surfing the full site sat at a lap top to flicking through my feed on my phone, I simply couldn’t find it. Which I guess is a testimony in itself as to how unimportant that figure actually is.
So what’s the difference and why is it important? What does it take for me to consider you my friend?
Today I was fortunate enough to watch my daughter play with a new friend. I watched as these two very different little girls moved alongside one another, slowly at first and them in wild, chaotic wonder, to write their rules. To define who each would be within that world.
And, of course, neither of them knew it. Neither stopped to consider the semiotics of their play. But, as I watched, I began to see.
I saw how friendships are formed by reflections. Reflections of ourselves in the eyes of another. Reflections and projections of who that person may need you to be.
And I think of my friends…
Old friends who I have known longer than I care to remember. Friends who I speak to every week and those I don’t. Friends who make days at work worthwhile. Those who I haven’t always found it easy to be friendly towards. Friends who I am only just finding. Friends I have danced on car bonnets with in wellies at four in the morning. Friends who know the worst of me. Friends who have only ever seen the best. Friends who have failed to stick around and those who have forgiven my failings again and again.
And each one of these friends shows me something about who I am. Who I could be. What it takes to be a person beyond my own introspective ideas. And then I think of those Facebook friends. Are interactions, past or present, big or small, ever really meaningless or without value?
They show me my role as I step out in to the world. Who I am, who I have been and who I may become. Never alone.