Thursday, 11 August 2011

"best friends"

As I have mentioned before, I don’t like the phrase “Best Friend(s)”.

I don’t like it because it seems to place (or imply) a hierarchical structure on friendship that I really don’t like. It seems to imply that you have (a) best friend(s), and then you have ‘lesser’ friends. I have very close friends, and then I have less close friends, but they are not inherently ‘better’ than each other. I am just closer to some of them, for various reasons.*

The phrase also seems to have a rigid structure of friendship implied, as if you have a friendship that ‘levels up’ once you have completed certain actions.** However, running with the gaming metaphor here, it is as if you can only have so many friendships of each ‘level’, and once you have reached the set amount you have no more slots for friends.***

Society seems to say that you cannot increase your number of friendship slots, you may only have certain people occupying certain slots (other gender? Restricted to level  ~4000 and below. Significant age difference? Level ~3500 and below. etc), and you must start all friendships at lvl 0, working your way up lineally to whatever level you attain. You may not skip levels, you may not do several at once, and you may not pass go and collect $200.

And I’m not cool with that. Everyone should feel free to have as many friends as they want to have, and not feel pressured to only have so many “best friends”/friends/etc. And friendships, relationships in general, don’t progress linearly. No two relationships are the same, so why do we act like they are?

Now, I’m not saying that everyone should have loads of friends. I certainly don’t, and I try not to be hypocritical. I’m saying that the amount of friends you want to have is the right amount of friends for you. If you want to have 50000 close friends, that’s really cool. If you want to have 2? That’s also really cool.

*This is why I use ‘close friends’. It does not presume a value judgement on either my friends or our relationship, but instead vaugly quantifies how close we are as friends. (think of it as plotting places on a map. Place A is closer to place B than it is to place Z. This does not mean that place A’s relationship is ‘better’ than place A and place Z’s, it just means that place A and place B are closer. (except that the metaphorical land distance is emotional distance, and there’s about a million other axes on which distance is measured)

**knowing each other’s names? Lvl 1. Knowing each other well enough that you can interpret their eyebrow wiggles into the entire English dictionary? Lvl 8002.

***in this metaphor, you’d only have room for one “best friend” (lvl >9000), and then more room for each successive ‘lower level’ friend. (i.e, you can have ~2 friends of ‘level’ 8999, and then 3 of lvl 700, and then 5 of lvl 600, and so on and so forth until you reach lvl 1, which would be acquaintances or something. You can have millions of those.

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