Friendship and friends have been important issues for me, all my life. In my childhood, I received a fair amount of not only affection, acceptance, and appreciation, but also a generous amount of alienation, ridicule, and criticism (for being different). Though I remember other people’s behaviors towards me in my early life very strongly, actually I doubt that I provoked any strong reaction in anyone, because I was mostly an invisible person. I think, it is my personal antenna cum amplifier of emotions and body language, that catches and amplifies people’s signals, and stores them in my database.
I spent a lot of time analyzing why’s, and got better at the game, the game of social behavior and not getting excluded from things of which I would like to be a part. I managed to get on with my life well, and managed to communicate with people, and now I have a few really good friends, and many good friends, and many nice old friends, many nice current friends, and many pleasant friendly acquaintances, and so on… I hope the pattern and its progression is evident? I have a couple of good friends, whom I met online. I also of course have many acquaintances whom I dislike or feel indifferent to. Then there are people I have never met, but I like them or resent them or even perhaps hate them.
In the world that appeared to be largely unfriendly, the word friend, and its import assumed paramount importance for me. They still are extremely important to me. I treasure and cherish the people I have called friends, and nurture the relationship as well as my situation will allow. I tend to these relationships. I have earned these friendships. I keep my friends in my thoughts, wish them well in my heart ever so often and share their ups and downs. I never envy them, I feel happy for the good things in their lives, and cry for their sadness. And we have some common ground, shared views or experiences, and shared affection in varying intensities.
Having devoted so much of my cognitive processing power, memory space, and time (running and process) in analyzing, understanding and acquiring “friends”, suddenly I find that the term “friend” has been hijacked. I am talking about the indiscriminate use of the word “friend” in social networks. I have worked hard on understanding friendliness and hostility; pleasantness and disagreeableness; and affection, dislike and hatred. I resent the random use of the word “friend” to include all the people you know – people you know and like, people you know and dislike , people you know well, and people you know next to nothing about. How can all of them be called “friends”?
I have tried to analyze if I was being like that lady (an aristocrat) who asked her blue blood lover, if he thought that the plebian folks knew of this exquisite thing called love. Perhaps I treat “friendship” like an exclusive and special privilege. All the personal background in this post emphasizes that “friend” is a precious and sacred word to me.
I am neither a linguistic purist, nor a technophobe. On the contrary, I think evolution (with positive or negative impacts) is unstoppable, of creatures, cultures and languages. Today electronic communication, social media and networks have led to so many new words, terminology and dialects (txtspk!), why cannot someone invent a word that would mean “contacts”, because it seems to me all these people are just one’s contacts, and apparently it would be rude to call them just that, hence the promotion to “friend”. Well, there must be more out there like me (e.g., who don’t like the idea of a universal friend list for whatever reason), and it’s time for something to be done.