Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hierarchy of Acquaintanceship

I open doors,
They walked right through them
Called me their friend,
I hardly knew them...
-"Where I Want To Be" by Josh Groban, from Chess

I don't really understand how other people judge or define what a friend is, but judging by my very limited quantity, I suspect I am more choosy than many.

I dislike how Facebook and other social networks force everyone that you're connected to be a "friend." Most of the people on my list are nothing more than connections, acquaintances. It gives the illusion that I'm more social than I actually am, and that they are a lot closer to me than I allow them to be. Some of them are strangers in every sense except that we know each other's names and faces.

My friends are people I'm not afraid to flirt with, regardless of their relationship status; not afraid to hug without asking first. People I trust to watch my back and keep tight-lipped about secrets I choose to share. People I take one more mask off for. I suppose, for some, my basic-level friends might be equivalent to a more-trusting person's best friends.

Acquaintances are people I've gone to school with, friends of friends, coworkers I interact with on a regular basis or did at one time. Coworkers that I don't interact with regularly (or did at one time) are even lower on the totem pole; they're little more than names and faces.

At the very bottom are people who know my name, but I don't know their's. This probably seems like a strange category, but in 2005, there were a lot of people who fit into this category. If you went to high school with me, you'd understand why.

Enemies don't go anywhere in the scale. When I say I burn bridges, I really mean it.

As for best friends... well, for me, they're just friends that I see more often, interact with more often than the others. Sometimes they're geographically closer, sometimes electronically. I really don't distinguish this group from the rest of my friends, since both categories are remarkably exclusive. Think of an invitation-only club that exists inside of an invitation-only club, with hand-written and -drawn calligraphy on the invitations. It's just excessive at that point. If you don't do a good job of vetting people the first time, what makes you think you'll do such a good job the second time? Sure some people who haven't been the healthiest for me have slipped in, but when I managed to identify the counterfeit invitation, I've booted them out.

The people on Facebook mostly aren't friends: they're lucky to be acquaintances, most of them.