“Books, like friends, should be few and well chosen. Like friends, too, we should return to them again and again for, like true friends, they will never fail us – never cease to instruct – never cloy.”
– Charles Caleb Colton
I think it’s important that I make a post about this, as it seems as though some people may be taken aback by how I handle friend requests and/or my friends list on Facebook. So, if we’re friends on Facebook or you’re tentatively deciding on whether-or-not to add me, please take the time to read the following, as I’m writing about it for a reason.
- Popularity is not a priority to me.
I’m not quite sure who is still intent on being ‘popular’ in the adult world, but I can tell you that I’m not. I’m the type of guy that’s intent on being himself around others that can appreciate that. The Marine Corps has taught me to be a leader, to be courageous, bold, and to give nothing less than everything that I have to offer in everything that I do. I will always do my best to be straightforward and honest, but also understand that some friends can handle the bluntness of the truth and others – cannot. People might enjoy the fact that I’m a happy-go-lucky guy, but please never mistake my kindness as a form of weakness.
- I think quality is better than quantity.
It might be the introvert inside of me, but I would much-rather have a small handful of close friends that I can share anything and everything with, than a plethora of friends that I share bits and pieces about myself with. I actually used to do that. I used to have a large network of “friends” who I would share parts of my life about with, but never everything. For example, I’d have a person that I’d talk to about work-related stuff, religious stuff, personal stuff, and so on… Unfortunately, however, this left me feeling very-much broken, and longing for a much more meaningful relationship with people. Hence, I made a change that lead me to some of the best, long-lasting, and most meaningful relationships I’ve had in my life.
- I’m very selective when it comes to who I call my friends.
I can still remember when I first looked up the definition and etymology of the word: “friend“. I felt as though I had not-only peaked but also surpassed the typical level of friendship with the Kagi (Kah-gee) family, and I wanted to begin calling them my family as our relationship with one another most-certainly felt that way. It was at this time that I wanted to find out whether or not someone could call a family member a ‘friend’ or even give the title of ‘family’ to a friend. To my dismay, the word ‘family’ is limited to people who share a common bloodline, which meant I technically couldn’t call a non blood-related person, ‘family’; However, I could call my family members ‘friends’. This didn’t quite sit well with me, though, as this would also bode true for adopted children; And a part of me refuses to believe that a child raised by people who adopted him/her, or even foster kids being raised by foster parents couldn’t refer to one another as a family member.At any rate, if you take the time to look it up, the word ‘friend’ is rooted into Old English, Proto-Germanic, and many other Indo-European based languages. Interestingly enough, the particle ‘fri-‘ (or pri-) is believed to be a present participle form meaning “to love”. So, when we get down to the root of the word, a friend is someone we love. It was after this discovery that I came to realize that I was using the word ‘friend’ haphazardly, because a true friend should be someone that I truly care about and sincerely love. Much like the word ‘love’, itself, (at least in today’s modern society) the word ‘friend’ has also been thrown around so much that it has nearly lost all of its meaning. From the moment I realized this though, I decided to make a conscious effort to refrain from calling -just anyone- my friend, and I’m proud to say that I have no regrets about it, thus far.
- I don’t use the word “Love” unless I really mean it.
As I mentioned previously, love has been used so much that I think we’ve diluted its true meaning. Interestingly enough, in Japanese society, the word 愛している (or “aishiteiru”) is such a strong form of “I love you” that they seldom use it and/or say it to one another. Even when we look at the Greek language, they have 4 different words for 4 different types of love. These words are agape, eros, philia, and storge. It was at a rather young age when I came to believe that people would tell each other they ‘loved’ one another, despite the fact that they only had very strong feelings of ‘like’ for the other person. I think that it was true when (some) students in high school and middle school started dating, and I think that it even extends to some adults, these days. Perhaps we need to educate ourselves a little bit more about this term and revere it for how strongly our bonds truly are or could potentially become, whenever we do use it.
- I believe in the theory behind Dunbar’s Number.
If you’re not familiar with the term, then I think you fall in line with the majority of people in this fast-paced social media world and society. It was actually while I was still a student that I stumbled upon an article in The New Yorker entitled, “The Limits of Friendship“. If you have the time, I highly recommend reading the aforementioned article.
The Dunbar number is actually a series of them. The best known, a hundred and fifty, is the number of people we call casual friends—the people, say, you’d invite to a large party. […] The next step down, fifty, is the number of people we call close friends—perhaps the people you’d invite to a group dinner. You see them often, but not so much that you consider them to be true intimates. Then there’s the circle of fifteen: the friends that you can turn to for sympathy when you need it, the ones you can confide in about most things. The most intimate Dunbar number, five, is your close support group. These are your best friends (and often family members). On the flipside, groups can extend to five hundred, the acquaintance level, and to fifteen hundred, the absolute limit—the people for whom you can put a name to a face. While the group sizes are relatively stable, their composition can be fluid. Your five today may not be your five next week; people drift among layers and sometimes fall out of them altogether.
My ex was a social butterfly. He had friends up the wazoo, and was (what seemed to me) always entertaining them and throwing a variety of different venues and inviting so many people that I didn’t know. I think that for him, it was fun, despite seeing him become anxious or exhausted after slaving away trying to get things prepped for the gala. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like he had really close ties to many of these people. Not only that, but he seemed to have so many friends and acquaintances that his time became limited with each and every one of them, despite their continuous invitations for him to join them at other events.
I think it was at that point that I realized I didn’t want to be “that” friend. I didn’t want to spread myself so thin that the people who mattered to me the most (and vice-versa) got less of me than people I barely spoke to or even interacted with. It was also at that time, that I decided to prioritize my friendships and ensure that I didn’t drown out those people who were most important to me – just because social media would dub whose newsfeeds were more important than others’. Despite social media being a great form of keeping in touch with close friends and family, it also seems to me that it’s a deceiving platform, as it causes us to form a lot of pseudo-relationships with people we otherwise wouldn’t interact with. Not to mention that I have people who I am extremely close to who don’t even have a facebook account, so it’s for these reasons that I never take friend requests or unfriending someone on social media seriously.
- Friendships can be just as strong as filial ties, to me.
I grew up in a Filipino family with many Filipino customs and traditions, so I think I understand the amount of stress emphasized about the importance of family. For the majority of my life, my cousins were like my best friends. I honestly grew up thinking that it was normal to spend your weekends with your cousins, and I honestly didn’t think people did the same thing with their classmates. It wasn’t until I was in middle school or high school that phone calls started coming into the house from girls, and I remember my mom getting upset. I didn’t know it then, but I think she was more-so worried about me ruining my future than anything else (if she had only known they were strictly platonic… Hahaha); But I remember a conversation we had where she told me how family is there for you from the beginning and until the end; whereas friendships will inevitably fade away. I actually took this to heart and believed it, until I felt as though I had been betrayed by my family members (on more than one occassion).I was never really quite that fond of family, after what had happened to me as a kid, but in highschool I found it imperative that I confide in someone about my sexuality. I had initially told my cousin, Jasmin, who I was the closest to at the time and instantaneously felt relieved. She supported me and loved me and I became comfortable talking to her about anything and everything. I eventually told two more of our cousins who I thought that I could trust, and (to my knowledge) they never told anyone else. That is, until I had a falling out with one of them. A long story short, my cousin’s dad was out of town and she decided to throw a party at her house while he was away. Somehow her dad found out, and she blamed me for telling her dad despite the fact that I had no knowledge of what even happened. At any rate, the more I denied it, the more she continued to call me a liar and eventually got frustrated enough that she told all of our relatives that I was gay. Naturally, I felt as though I had become the black sheep of the family. No one ever really said anything, but the feeling of disapproval was there. There was also a more recent event where a cousin asked me to lend him $500, which I chose to do after hearing that he was struggling and would pay me back the following month, but then he decided to avoid me at all costs, after he got what he had asked me for.It was through these lessons, and more, that I turned away from family and created a strong network of friends. Although some of my friendships have had some rocky paths, I have to say that I have some friendships that are similar to that of filial ties as we get together for major holidays, birthdays, and the-like, and they love and accept me for the human being that I am. I honestly, wouldn’t have it any other way, as they make me feel whole and complete. At the end of the day, I feel truly blessed to have them all in my life.
- My posts on Facebook can be personal at times.
The internet is a very public space. We have various platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and-the-like, but it would be nice if I could dedicate at least one of those platforms to people that I know and who know me. I’ve already made it so that my Facebook page is undiscoverable by searching for my email address, the vast majority of my posts are friends-only, and people who aren’t friends with someone that I know, can’t send me a friend request, either. Granted, I sneak in a few public posts once in awhile, but I figure that if it’s something that I’d be willing to openly share on my blog, Twitter, or any other public, social media platform, it probably wouldn’t hurt.
- Facebook does not reflect the relationships I have in real life.
I have close friends and family members who don’t even use Facebook, and I admire them for their dedication. I’ve stepped away from it a few times, with my longest time away from the platform being a year, but I’ve somehow always come back. As much as I’d like to keep in contact with friends via email, Facebook seems to be the platform where it’s the most easiest. Sadly, you also get people that you don’t know, who want to become friends on the platform, but never comment, like, or message you and it makes me wonder why they even sent you a friend request to begin with. I think those are the ones I’m most quick to unfriend when the time comes.
- If we don’t communicate on Facebook from time-to-time I most-probably will delete/unfriend you.
I think unfriending people is more difficult than I initially thought that it would be. I think people like to think that they’ve legitimately become friends with people on social media platform, even though they’re not, and become hurt when people deny and/or unfriend them. It’s the ideology that if we aren’t friends on social media, we can’t be friends or acquaintances in real life – and I think that’s rather ludicrous. In my opinion, it just underlines the problem we have with regards to the pseudo-relationships we form with people on social networking sites. I’m not saying that true and legitimate bonds can’t be forged via social media – because I know they can! – but I believe something inside of me yearns for something to come into fruition from physical, one-on-one, social interaction, as opposed to virtual ones.One of my oldest online friends is someone that I met via an online community called “livejournal.com” well-over 10 years ago. I used to post blog entries on their website after I felt as though keeping a physical journal was a bit risky due to the subject matter of what was written in them. At any rate, I frequently used livejournal until the original owner sold the website and ads were implemented to add revenue by the new owner. (It’s a bit eerie and somewhat nostalgic to go back and re-read some of my old posts there, though.) At any rate, my friend Jen and I were friends on livejournal first, and our friendship continued onto Myspace(?) and then Facebook and we have seemingly followed each other’s lives (for the most part) almost completely online. The first time we actually met one another was around 2012, when her and her husband travelled through Portland, Oregon while on a road trip together, and spent the night at my ex’s house with us. We actually had plans to meet sooner (I was still in the Marine Corps and she was still in the Navy), while we both were stationed in southern California, but for some reason I wasn’t able to make the trek out of 29 Palms for her going-away party near San Diego. I was rather bummed.
Despite our relationship being forged via the internet, though, I think the fact that we were bloggers who often created very personal posts on our blogs and shared them with one another only helped us to become closer. Facebook, however, doesn’t quite feel like the same environment to me. Unlike livejournal, there don’t seem to be as many moments of vulnerability in people’s personal posts, and when people do have something vulnerable to share, the words are often too little or too few to be able to empathize with them.
Much like livejournal though, I think it was our interactions with one another that helped us to form bonds with people we barely knew. It was usually during times when we had a lack of this sort of interaction on topics that we are passionate about or interested in, however, that it became easier to see that the other person was either disinterested or lacked the time or the effort to be vulnerable with us; Which (at least to me) is often a sign that perhaps we’re not a good fit for one another. I think the same rules apply when making posts on Facebook about things we’re passionate about. Silence from our ‘friends’ at these times of vulnerability is never a good sign to me.
- I have very high standards.
If anything, the Marine Corps has taught me to always hold myself to high standards, and I think it’s natural that the same rule applies to my relationships with people, as well. My mom always used to tell me that I was a very “hard-headed” (and even stubborn as a child), and I think that it holds true of my character, even today. More often than not, I know what I want and I will do everything in my power to acquire it. I think this form of dedication is also true in many aspects of my life, including my relationships with people, as I not-only hold my friends to high standards, but I also hold myself accountable for ensuring that I’m being the best friend that I can possibly be to them. Should there be any doubts, my actions often speak the loudest. I’m not about to describe all of them here, but I think the people closest to me know some of the lengths that I’m willing to go to, just for them. My acquaintances, on the other hand, probably wouldn’t. I think people often believe that just because you’re a friendly or happy-go-lucky person that you’ll be a push-over, but I’m far from that. Should an acquaintance see me in a negative light; however, it really doesn’t phase me. Afterall, if you’re not in my close network of people, and I’m confident in who I am, who I want to be, and my friends feel positive about these things (about me) then why should I care about the thoughts or misguided perceptions of someone who doesn’t even know me? Would you care?
At the end of the day, I know these things to be true about me, as I’ve been told by many people that I’m a very loyal, trustworthy, dedicated, harsh and fierce realist who would easily bend over backwards for the people he loves. Honestly, I don’t shy away from a good conversation, but I’m not the slightest bit interested in small talk or meaningless ones. I’m a “dive into the deep-end of the pool, first” kind of guy, but I will always go back to ensure the people who I love are doing okay, should they opt not to tag along with me.
At any rate, my relationship goals are almost always for the long-haul, with people who I can confide in (and vice-versa), as well as entertain, with meaningful conversations about some of the most minute little things. Chats that vary from topics like our current life situations or our career goals, the current state of our society, international relations, religion, or even the cosmos. I think one of the most powerful conversations of all, however, is the one you can have in silence with one another, all-the-while enjoying a nice warm cup of something delicious next to someone who enjoys your company.