Everyone has online friends. Or almost everyone. These days the craze is over at Google+. You or at least one of your online “friends” is searching for a Google+ invite this very moment. Or they are already on Google+ adding others right now. Regardless, the craze is to find a good new social network and to start adding people. It seems the more people you have on your “friends” list online, the more popular or important you seem online, even if you never, ever interact with your online “friends” from your “friends” list.
This trend started from MySpace and Xanga probably, or even before, carried onto Twitter and Facebook, and now it lives in Google+ also. It will keep on going, since people want more “friends” online. As long as having “friends” makes you more popular than having no audience online, you will want more “friends.”
What I’ve been wondering is how the word “friend” has lost its real meaning. Almost 99.99% of everyone on your Facebook profile is not actually your real friend. They just say “friend” to imply friendship, without actually having any friendship. It’s easy to type “lol” or “awww! I’m sorry!” online just to portray an emotion that actually isn’t there. People have clung on to such “friendship” emotions online, citing them as “friends.”
In reality, most of the “online friends” are nothing more than pixels on your monitor. They are nothing like the “real offline friends”, that the online world rarely wants you to think about unless it involves the online “seasonal” friends too.
The real question for me then becomes: how many real offline friends do you have?
Classification of Real Offline Friends
There are so many classifications people use to classify someone as “friend”, it’s either literally impossible to list them all, or very hard to list them in one single sentence. “Being there for you” does not classify as a friend, as your maid or chauffeur could be there for you too. “Being there for you for free” won’t work either, since even friends hang out with you because they get something in return: “good friendship” or “good experience.” We can cover that topic another day.
In the meantime, here are some ground rules to help you decide how many real friends, or real offline friends, you really have:
- You must know them offline, obviously.
- You must hang out with them at least once a month on an almost regular basis.
- Your co-workers are not your friends unless you do all the things with them that you also do with your non-co-worker friends or family.
- You must have non-co-worker friends. Yep, this automatically kicks out so many of the self-proclaimed “online geeks.” If all your friends are co-workers, you really don’t have real friends. That’s not bad though, even if society thinks not having friends sucks.
- No seasonal friends. You cannot have seasonal friends. Someone you hang out with for a while and then move on to find someone else doesn’t count. So any existing or new people who are just seasonal don’t count.
How many real offline friends do you really have?
Based on the above, or your own imagination, how many real offline friends do you really have? What kind of friends do you consider to be real offline friends?
Share your answers, thoughts or any questions in the comments below. Thanks!