Before I euthanized my account there, I had hundreds of “friends” on Facebook. Most of them I knew only slightly; some of them I didn’t even really like. Precious few of them were genuine friends.
Someone (I wish I could find a link to give proper credit) coined the term “frends” to represent those online acquaintances—similar to friends, but not quite—a variance that makes all the difference in the world.
A true friend is one who, when he finds out you are in trouble, will drop what he is doing and do what he can to help. Want to know how many genuine friends you have? Get charged with a serious crime.
Who tracks you down when you’ve disappeared into the maw of the criminal justice system? Who visits you in jail, just to talk? Who puts money in your inmate trust account? Who bails you out? Who picks you up in the middle of the night when you get out? Who returns your lawyer’s calls? Who drags you to rehab? Who gives you rides to and from court? Who keeps you company when you’re there?
Who, in other words, sticks with you even when your problems are entirely your dumbass fault?
True friends are few and far between. It’s a special ethic that most people don’t share; I base this statement on extensive observation of people in trouble. Judge Larry Standley, when he is taking a plea from a young defendant, makes this point. The defendants in Judge Standley’s court are charged with petty crimes, but still, only their parents are standing up for them.
Truth be told, even most criminal-defense lawyers don’t have the ethic, though the occupation selects for those who do: sticking with people even when their problems are entirely their dumbass fault is an important part of the job, and those who would do so for love of a friend are naturally willing to do so for a living.
Facebook devalues friendship by calling something that when it isn’t truly: six hundred frends, and if you’re extraordinarily lucky two or three friends.
Who are your true friends? (A benediction: May you never find out!)
More importantly (and more in your control), are you a true friend?