Thanks, I made 'em myself

A little while ago, I received an invitation to Google+. If you don't know what Google+ is, as far as I can tell it's pretty much a clone of Facebook. People talk about it being better integrated with other services (certainly with the rest of Google). That doesn't matter to me. The only thing I use Facebook for, and Google+ if it comes to that, is to stay in touch with people I care about.

Google+ comes with some preset groups called "circles," which allow you to control (more easily than on Facebook, I think) who sees which things you post. The presets are Family, Following, Friends, and Acquaintances. Each also has a description. Here's the one for Friends: "Your real friends, the ones you feel comfortable sharing private details with." And here's the one for Acquaintances: "A good place to stick people you've met but aren't particularly close to." Of course there can be lots of gradations in between, and I've already created new groups. Still, the basic division got me wondering.

There's a cheeky saying that gets around (in various forms): A friend will help you move, but a really good friend will help you move the body. I have no plans to whack anyone, but I get the point. Somewhere between "sharing private details" and "moving the body," maybe I can figure out what makes a real friendship at a time when people (including me) have hundreds or even thousands of "friends" on Facebook. Since my Facebook list is loaded (yes, a couple hundred) and Google+ is still just getting started, I figured I'd experiment with new Facebook groups, using Google+ as a model.

First, I have to separate local from remote. I have people I consider genuine friends, people with whom I share private details (and who might even help me move the body) but who live far away. I put effort into maintaining friendship with people far away. We email, IM, and talk on the phone. I value my far-away friends. But when I call them, it's not to hang out and spend face time together. That happens only if we meet up somewhere (which in some cases has happened).

So I'm looking at my local friends, and I realize I have some lists in my head. "Acquaintances" is a pretty easy one, although there can be levels of that too. I know a lot of people I say hi to, maybe hang out in a group with. They're all people I like or else they wouldn't be on my Facebook list. I'm more drawn to some than to others. I'm sure that works both ways.

Then there are those few with whom I actually spend "quality time," even if perhaps not recently. We go out to dinner. We get together for coffee. We might go to an event together. We sit and talk and share our lives. These are people I treasure, and I want to make sure I do my part to keep these friendships thriving. It's not always easy. We all get busy. I fear that I am sometimes not as good about keeping up as I ought to be. But I've found that real friends are ones you might not speak with for a while, but then when you do it's as though you haven't been apart at all.

The friends who would help me move the body make up a pretty small group. I don't think it's possible or even desirable to have more than a few intimate friends. Still, there are people outside that group whom I would like to know better. When I see them, I'm happy. It's great to chat and catch up. I would love more.

My close friends are close because something clicked. Who knows how or why that happens? When it happens between two people who are both on the same wavelength, it's wonderful! But it's not something that happens often. Sometimes it's asymmetrical—it takes two to tango, right? Sometimes two people don't click in quite the same way. There are a lot of variables involved in whether a friendship forms or not. And if it does, it has to be nurtured from both sides. You don't get to the stage where you can not see each other for a long time but it's still OK for quite a while.

It was great to see women at the Girls Rock Camp Vancouver Showcase last night whom I had not seen in too long. In a few weeks, my women's wine and book club will meet, the first time for me in a couple of months. Hopefully there will be some more dine-out meetups coming up. I actually inherited a Meetup group that I'm not quite sure what to do with but don't want to lose. There are people in all those groups and beyond whom I would love to know better. There are people with whom I might or might not click. All I can do is to be open and aware, and to be myself. You can't force a click. But you can be ready for it.


Arlene said...

I would help you move the body..lol :) Great blog!

Véronique said...


I know you would! But I'm glad we don't have to test that. :)