Country singer Tracy Lawrence has a great song that tells a story of a guy who’s been at the top, and when he gets down on his luck he finds out who his friends are. Most of us have friended a friend of a friend (prior to Facebook that sentence would have made no sense what so ever). Then before you know it, you have 502 “friends” in your life. Well, with all the hype about followers and friends, does anyone ever check to see who their friends aren’t? It became somewhat apparent early on why I should never friend someone I met only once at a cocktail party–she just might turn out to be an overzealous politico that uses Facebook as her bully pulpit. Then there’s the “all caps” guy who always has words of inspiration to share, but in all caps, I feel as if he’s screaming at me every morning–before I’ve even had coffee. And unfortunately, there’s the guy who is a friend of a friend that appears on the 6 o’clock news charged with fraud. That made me take a good, hard look at who my friends are, and ask myself some questions.
Certainly we’re mindful of whom we associate ourselves with professionally; shouldn’t we do the same personally? Early on I sought out people from high school, college or previous jobs. It was fun and challenging and I was on a mission to reunite a group for a hometown reunion. I want quality (and yes there can be quality in 502). But after this last news story incident, unless I know who they are, what they represent and how they function in the realm of ethics, I’m going with what I know (rather who I know).
I’ve realized that Facebook is an extension of who I am. I would never post anything that I wouldn’t want my mother or pastor to read. Now, it may be colorful in nature, but again, it’s a reflection of the real me.
I recently read an article that said it is possible to maintain no more than 150 relationships…I’m assuming they mean quality relationships and I might agree, but that doesn’t mean my 502 friends, uh, make that 499 now, don’t have a meaningful place in my life.
As a fun project, I posted that statistic on Facebook and asked my friends to comment as to why we should remain friends…the answers ranged from hysterical to sincere to caustic…and I loved each and every one of them for taking time to participate in my little world even for a moment; it was the highlight of my week. Instant replies came from high school friends, work associates, political pundits and a couple of newer acquaintances–THAT’S how you find out who your friends are. It was just a game of fun, but the punch line is that there is a nugget of quality in each comment written and I find that invaluable.
Facebook has another added value that I’ve observed; the amazing support people naturally exhibit. A “friend” can post a status expressing need or pain or self-doubt and in a matter of minutes a flock of people come to their aide with words of encouragement. Where else besides a church pew can you cry out and receive immediate salvation? I’m bringing this up because part of the message here is 1) that you can’t judge people by who YOU think they are, 2) you never know what the guy next door is going through and 3) you have a right to “unfriend” someone without feeling guilty if they don’t reflect a piece of who you are. And even more importantly, if you aren’t CERTAIN that your friends fairly represent YOU, you might want to take some time to find out who YOUR friends really are (yes, the “all caps” are for emphasis)!