Friends by the Numbers, or Number One Friends

Does anyone remember autograph books? The little albums young girls used to collect signatures of their friends, probably during junior high school?

Or, did your school tradition include signing yearbooks?

Maybe we didn’t admit it at the time, but the more signatures, the more friends you had, the the more popular you were, so there was a little game or contest underneath the surface.

I feel as if we’ve gone back to adolescence with Facebook, LinkedIn, and the other social media sites where we collect friends, some of whom we’ve never met or never will meet, just to bump up numbers.

Would be silly and juvenile, if the numbers didn’t count.

As an author, I need to show numbers to prove I have followers, i.e., readers and a platform. I’m sure others are pressed for numbers in their fields also.

So I welcome friends by the number. Sometimes I’ve actually developed an online acquaintanceship with some, when we share views or disagree in a way that invites more discussion.

What I do enjoy about Facebook are the connections.

Facebook has erased geography and time as obstacles to keeping up with friends. I can share a photo or have a conversation with my next door neighbor, my first grade friend and our former exchange students in Moscow and Sao Paulo at the same time and with little effort. Amazing. And fun.

In fact, the older I grow, the more fun it is to reconnect and keep in touch.

I’ve lost too many friends, longtime friends whose history has intertwined with mine for years back, and I miss them dearly. Too many funerals.

What also saddens me are those friends from forever who, for whatever reason or another, don’t value the old ties and let the friendship slide away.

That could have happened with one friend in particular. We became friends not so many years ago and recognized each other as kindred spirits. She liked fun and adventure and didn’t hesitate to climb over fences next to No Trespassing signs to play with our cameras on the beach or hire male models to pose nude for her art group. We’ve shopped together, traveled together, and argued bitterly about opposite political views. Whatever glue binds this friendship is elastic enough to stretch over distance and long absences since we no longer live with hundreds of miles of each other.

Nevertheless, we always pick up where we last left off, as we just did yesterday. A really true number one friend, Mary White, whom I cherish.