Social media has caused us to define the term very loosely. Too loosely, in my not so humble opinion. Until recently I even ran with the notion that since I knew somebody from high school, it meant something. I just learned why that isn’t true.

An interaction I had with one of these so called friends from high school made me realize something unfortunate. Just because I knew someone 25 years ago, doesn’t mean I know them at all now, and they certainly don’t know me. In fact many of these people, I barely knew, even back then, and again, I’m certain they knew very little of me. It’s superficial, and it’s bullshit, and it’s a waste of time.

My experience has me redefining what it takes for someone to qualify, as a friend of mine. And yes, it should mean something, when I call sometime a friend. It should mean something when YOU call someone a friend. Friendship should be based on trust and mutual respect. That mutual respect part is the one that seems hardest to come by. All too often the respect is one sided.

I’m not perfect. Sometimes, and always with good intentions, I do stupid things. Something I thought was going to be funny turns out to be really stupid. Like, “what the hell were you thinking” brand of stupidity. I’m guilty.

One difference between someone who qualifies as a friend, and one who doesn’t, is based on how well they know me. Anyone who knows me well enough to qualify as a friend would know that I would NEVER, EVER, knowingly, or intentionally do something to harm them. So if I do something stupid, as I will from time to time, because we all do, all you have to do is point it out to me. I’ll own it, and I’ll make it right. Any “friend” of mine would know that, and they would treat me accordingly.

If a person comes at me in a definitively hostile manner, and I offer to make it right, and they’re still hostile, that’s not a friend. That’s someone looking for a fight, and that means they’ve failed me as a friend. It means they don’t know me well enough to qualify as a friend, and I sure as hell don’t even want to know them.

So if my friend count on Facebook and elsewhere drops, it’s because I’m tightening up my definition of what it means for me to call someone a friend. It means that when I do call someone a friend, it actually means something beyond superficial.