A fellow traveler on Google Plus asked about whether it’s hard for others to make friends on Google Plus, because he thought it would be easier (than in real life?) but found it was not. I wrote the following comment and wanted to share it with others.
It really depends on what you consider friendship to be. I don’t want to get into a big philosophical discussion on this. I once read an essay by a woman about about how women consider friendship in tiers or circles. I think she called it “friends, good friends, and such good friends.”
I think she meant the following:
1. Friends are people you can share experiences with and chat about relatively superficial things. You can have many of these because the barrier to this type of friendship is low.
2. “Good friends” are people you feel “close to” and who you feel comfortable sharing experiences with and depending on for important life events. I think this includes you offering the same empathy and security to them. You can have five or more of these but probably not too many.
3. “Such good friends” are those people you can share your most intimate feelings and secrets with, without worrying about them betraying you. You can depend on them for anything, money and even life and death decisions and usually they can depend on you to the same extent. You usually have only a few of these friends at most.
Remember this was written by a woman so don’t feel bad if you don’t have all these friends. I don’t. I think Google+ can be a rich source of “friends” but the nature of it prevents you from having the second and third types of friends, because those relationships require intimacy that social networks aren’t conducive to, at least in my experience.
I have a handful of people I consider “friends” in real life and a few on Google+, but only my wife counts as more than that.