What Does Friendship Mean?


New people have started at our work. They seem relatively normal. I haven’t said much to them. I say hello but that’s pretty much as far as it goes. I’ve reached a point in my life when I’m no longer the life and soul of the office. I just want to go to work, do the job to the best of my ability, take advantage of the loo roll and free coffee, and then get home to my lovely Mrs Grump.

I just want to clarify there that I’m not unfriendly. I don’t squawk and hiss at people, lashing out at them with a clawed hand just because they’ve said hello to me. Well, definitely not after I’ve had my morning caffeine kick anyway.

I just keep myself to myself most of the time.

Then suddenly on Facebook, I received a friend request. A request from one of the new guys. Now I don’t like accepting friend requests from colleagues who I hardly know at the best of times, let alone now, when I have never even had a conversation with this person. I don’t know what the pre-requisite is for dialogue between two people to be considered as a conversation. “Hello.” “Hello.” There you go. Is that a conversation? I don’t think it is.

So now this guy, let’s call him Alvin, wants to be my “friend” on Facebook. Just because we share the same bit of carpet and do the same job.

There is a woman who walks her dog near Chateau Grump. We both used to walk our dogs at the same time and say hello to each other when passing. We still say hello, even though I am no longer walking a dog. It’s good that she is not dog biased. But just because we have acknowledged one another in passing does not mean I’m going to invite her into my life, show her my holiday snaps, introduce her to the lovely Mrs Grump, show her photos of what I’ve eaten or nice snaps captured with the good lady on days out. She will not have an insight into my Grumpy and slightly warped world! Not unless she finds me on WordPress.

The same goes for Alvin. Who does he think he is?

I could have ignored his request but instead I hit that delete request button and it felt good. You may think that he was only trying to be friendly. Listen, there’s a friendly hello, which leads on to a conversation and banter and then, only then, can you consider sending a friend request. You don’t start with hello and then request to be a voyeur into their life. I thought it was a bit weird.

I felt better for deleting him but I needed more. I was worked up by the audacity. My thirst had not yet been quenched and so without further a do, I assessed every friend I had in my Facebook list and set about the orchestration of the largest cull I have ever completed!

Some people seem happy to have a friends list equal to the population of New Delhi. Whoopeedo, look at you, so popular, with people who you only met once at a party, or in a queue for the toilet, or during your gap year travelling around the world or maybe at the STD clinic waiting room. You are not friends with all of these people! Get a grip. Nobody cares how many friends you have!

I only want people in the list who contribute or have contributed something to my life. People who I actually converse with is generally a good starting point. People, who I care about.

So I went to work, delete, delete, delete. Then I’d consider whether I wanted to delete someone. Then I’d delete them anyway. It seems harsh but it really isn’t. You see you can go through life holding onto every single person you have ever met but that’s just not natural is it? People need to be worthy of your friendship. They need to be special. This isn’t arrogance, it’s prioritising.

It felt good to be rid of some of these people. I had nothing personal against any of them. Many were people I hadn’t worked with for over five years. As lovely as they all were, we have to move on. We have to close that chapter and it’s not as if I want to see their bikini photos. Not now anyway.

Before Facebook we would move on in life, accept that we wouldn’t see people again and the people whom we had a connection with and mattered to us were the people we continued to make an effort with.

People you worked with were just colleagues. They can be good people and you can enjoy working with them but unless it ever went further into what felt like a friendship, then they were nothing more than colleagues. You didn’t want to see pictures of them eating an ice-cream in Tenerife, wearing pink crocs and looking slightly burnt. Why? BECAUSE THEY WERE JUST COLLEAGUES! If you left a job, they became, “People you used to work with,” and they would be relegated to very distant memories along with that bloke with the weird eye and what’shisface and thingymebob. Now we keep a collection of all the people we encounter thanks to the “Add Friend” tab and “Confirm Friend” if they’ve managed to hunt you down.

The term, “friend” has become so diluted now, thanks to Facebook, that I don’t think we know what a friend is, because by default, we are creating sub categories of friends. Good friends, best friends, old friends who emigrated, friends who are more acquaintances, the other half, the in laws, family, people you’ve met once, people you’ve never met but you share a mutual friend and people you feel obliged to have in the list because not having them there could be awkward.

A friend list is nothing more than a collection of people you have encountered throughout your life. Their profile pictures are much like a DVD collection or bookshelf. There are films or books that you will always go back to, but there are many that you know you will never watch or read again. But we keep them like a kind of trophy collection.

It’s good to have a sort out and get rid of the clutter. Only keeping what we find valuable.

As for Alvin, he’s bloody found me on Linked In now!


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