Define ‘Friend’ ?
In the world before mass transportation, the internet and social media, a friend was most probably somebody with whom you had a person-to-person relationship of some kind. At the very least, it would be a near pre-requisite that you had met and interacted with personally to a greater or lesser extent.
Today with the rise of social media actually having met your friends is now entirely optional. For fans of The Big Bang, a comment made by Doctor Sheldon Cooper sums up the views of a growing number of social media users.
Sheldon: I have a very wide circle. I have 212 friends on MySpace. Leonard: Yes, and you’ve never met one of them. Sheldon: That’s the beauty of it.
So today, I had three messages and contacts from ‘friends’ who started their introductions with the following lines:
“So I know we haven’t spoken for a few months – I suppose lending me £300 would be out of the question?”
“You’ve never been my cup of tea but I wouldn’t mind a go on your boyfriend if you can put a good word in for me?’
“I wondered if you could give me a reference. I know it’s been years but you’d look good on my CV”
Is it me ? Am I alone in finding both of these unacceptable (although I have to acknowledge they have the merit of brutal honesty)? I just find such a blunt, selfish and callous approach to be entirely out of bounds.
Although I rarely find myself watching and never (to this point) quoting Opera Winfrey, I do remember her saying something in an interview which strikes me as very true.
Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. – Oprah Winfrey
Of course, I take my share of blame for falling into the friend collection trap. But the past week has helped me formulate a plan to identify those I want to keep and those I can frankly do without. Also, a subtle change of approach on my part is kicking in as a result. Best summed up in the following quote by Dale Carnegie
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. – Dale Carnegie