The Friend-or-Facebook-Friend Litmus Test

I was chatting with a couple during last weekend’s wedding happy hour, when the male half referenced a budding actor that he was “friends with.”

Right on cue, his wife looked at him and said, “Are you friends? Or are you Facebook friends?”

Turns out this guy and the actor in question went to high school together. I’m not sure they have spoken since. But on Facebook, they have extended and accepted connection requests.

My friend told me that he and his wife have this conversation all the time. He liberally throws around the “friend” label, she’s a bit more selective. Because of this, they’ve come up with some friendship criteria. Namely, if his wife–who he has been with for ten years–hasn’t met this person, or hasn’t at least heard of him, then he’s not a friend.

She’d never heard of the actor friend.

You can imagine how excited this conversation made me. It was pretty weird, actually.

If you’re in a long-term couple, I think this rule is right-on. If you’ve never had occasion to introduce someone to your partner–if you’ve never even seen fit to mention someone–then he probably isn’t really your friend. He’s your Facebook friend. Or, as the wife explained to her husband , “that’s not your friend, that’s someone you know.”

It’s amazing how often those we confuse those two things.

Since the does-your-spouse-know-him criteria doesn’t work for everyone, I proposed this rule as well. If you haven’t spoken to someone, at least via email, in two years, then she’s not a friend. She’s a Facebook friend. She’s someone you know.

I keep trying to think of “friends” of mine who would break this rule. People I haven’t spoken to in two years  but I still consider my friends. I can’t.

What do you think of these friend-or-facebook-friend measures? Are they appropriate litmus tests? Is there a better one?


Filed under The Search

4 responses to “The Friend-or-Facebook-Friend Litmus Test

  1. Marie

    I would consider a good litmus test of a friend is whether or not you have a person’s email address and phone number programmed in your phone.

    • That’s a really great one, too.

    • Dee

      I think that only works for people who don’t have kids. I have lots of phone numbers and email addresses in my phone, but they aren’t people I’d necessarily call my friends. They are parents of my kids’ classmates/friends/teammates, teachers, etc. (as well as friends). People I might call for emergency pick-up, or a similar thing, but not people I’d share secrets with.

  2. Yes, I agree. I don’t feel as if I have this issue though. If anything, I could use more friends. I have a handful of good friends, best friends. I have friends that I wish I were better about keeping in touch with (but still see once a year if I am lucky). I have people that I used to be friends with that I love to bump into and catch up with for an evening or a random chat on facebook. I have friends that used to be that I wish were still my very present friends. The only ones that get called friends (rather than people that used to be friends or people I know) are the first two.
    Either way, calling someone a friend is special – and I don’t use the people that I follow on twitter or the facebook “friends” as true definitions. A friend is something more than that.

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