I have been pondering the meaning of "friends"...

Of course, the first thing I have to say is that just because the above picture has my friends Mike and Simon does not mean anything in any sort of ranking of friends, it is just that I have that picture of the three of us on the "friends" couch in a studio in LA (well, maybe that does say something). That said, they are two of my best friends and have been for many years.

But I was pondering the different sorts of friends we have. Over the years I have had many friends, and perhaps a key aspect of such friendship is that we do things socially as well as in other contexts. People you meet for a meal, or a drink, at the very least.

I have had many "work friends" that I have met socially, been to their houses, met their kids, etc, but the second I left the job and town in which I worked with them we did not keep in touch. It is strange that can happen, both ways around, and is not like we hate each other, just the social and work interaction is no longer there... In some cases, meeting now, after decades, would be strange and awkward.

There are friends I have made due to proximity in terms of where I live, but that is not actually that many people. I expect historically the local community was far more important than in the information age in which we now live. I doubt count any direct neighbours as "friends" especially, sorry.

There are friends I have made due to a social proximity as they are friends of relatives or other friends. I have a few of those. I am, of course, friends with all my kids partners. This is a sort of half way between the relatives you cannot pick and the friends you can. Sort of friends by proxy almost. Sorry if that sounds bad to some. I am happy to say I am friends with you all, obviously. Would I have met you and been friends if not for my kids - maybe not. That is not saying anything bad about you in any way. Friendship can only happen by proximity and exposure and interaction.

There are friends from work, and their indirect friends. There are friends I meet due to work, like those that attend LINX and LONAP meetings and so on. Many I would call friends. Many I rarely meet, especially out of this contexts.

There are friends on the Internet, some of which I have never even met. That is where things get interesting in many ways - the web of friends transcending any locale these days.

There are friends from some weird historical connection that are still there somehow. Friends that happened for any of the above reasons but manage to persist.

But all friends have different reasons for being friends, and different levels to which they will go as friends, and different resources they can provide as friends (and conversely levels of resources I can provide to them). That may be simply "prepared to go for a meal with them", or much much more.

Mike and Simon are a strange pair - I met via work, as customers, but I have met their families, stayed at their houses, and they have stayed at mine. We have met socially on many occasions. We interact most days, or at most weeks. I know they "have my back", I mean if I was like "Holy crap, shit hit fan, can you lend me £50k" then both would step up, and I would do the same for them, no questions asked. That said, it seems horrible putting a price on friendship as I just did, but in many ways it is a measure you can use.

But I have have a few friends I fail to keep in touch with as much as I should, who are as much friends as Mike and Simon if not for the long pause in communications and friendship.

Keeping up a friendship can be hard work, but a real friendship probably does not need "keeping up" that much, and in that respect I can count many other friends. some of which I have not gone to dinner with for years.

Of course the most interesting of friendships are those you have with your relatives, such as my kids. One of those we cannot avoid if we wanted to, and all want to make work as well as we can. Perhaps they are the best friends...


  1. Buying that CyberGear Gold from you was one of the best choices I have ever made :-)

  2. A friend will help you move.

    A best friend will help you move a body.

    1. A great friend will ask no questions, and bring a spade.

  3. I appear to have a friends deficit. I never see work colleagues once I've changed job, so they don't count as you have found. I see people once a week to play games, but I doubt we'd keep in touch if it wasn't for that. I have no children or partner, which leaves my parents as my only real friends that won't vanish if some activity stops. But they are in their 70s, they aren't going to last forever. I wonder what I've done wrong? I used to have friends, but they all got married and had kids over the years and they stopped getting in touch and when I tried to get in touch they clearly didn't have time for me. Oh well.

  4. You mention the internet and I think one of the interesting things is the almost "1 way" friendships that can develop.

    For example, I check your blog daily, and read every post. I probably know you better than I know my neighbours, not that that says much as I've only spoken to them a couple of times and would have to look in my xmas card book to remember their names, yet you don't know me from adam.

    Obviously I only know what you choose to share of your life, which is a curated feed to an extent, but it's a type of social interaction that I don't really feel existed before the internet. Even Celebrities didn't share in the same way back then.

    1. Ooh, that is indeed a good point. This could, of course, lead to creepy stalkers :-) But yes, a good point.

    2. Yes, I did realise this post sounded a bit creepy, but couldn't think of a better way to word it, sorry!

  5. Friends are good, hang onto yours. I'm afraid that I don't have any - my Asperger's means that I don't read people well. OK, that is apart from the brain-achingly obvious; if someone is screaming at me for having fucked up (again) it does not take a lot of empathy to figure out that they are probably displeased.

    So, I have a good few people that I know and hope do not hate me too much or "just tolerate" me because it takes less energy to do that than tell me to piss off but I don't know for sure. It's hard to invest a lot of emotional capital into a relationship where you are really not sure what the other side is thinking so I don't feel that I have anyone I could call a friend.

    At least (I think) I have stopped the behaviour that I had in my late teens and early twenties where I pretty much could not comprehend that anyone could like me and was so unsure (and frankly scared) of any emotional response other than barn door abject hatred that I tended to behave in a way which made that response a certainty. If you knew me at that time of my life I apologise wholeheartedly.

    As Owen said "Oh well"

    1. Some how most of my friends cope with it when I am rude to them, which is just as well. My wife cringes if she hears me on the phone some times, and is relieved to hear it is Mike on the phone and not someone else!


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