Print this pageAdd to Favorite
Facebook Does Not Allow Any Mooing, Meowing, Neighing or Barking
“I’ll be your friend if you’ll be my friend,” they said with a big woof and meow.

Friends, real or artificial:

It was probably as a good a topic as any to discuss, considering the weight of current circumstances on the minds of the local populace these days.

With all of the realities of a bad economy, and everything else that seems to have hit the fan in Parrot County these past several months, the topic was like a weekend trip to the shore. Still, it ended up splitting the community into a wide range of points of view, but hey, what else is new.

Discussing the theme of friendship is one of those occasions where after passions and diverse opinions ignite, folks can still be friends after the words subside.

The topic played itself out over at Family’s Feed Store, with everyone expressing their impressions on social-networking. The discussion meandered on to the definition of friends, the concept of friendships and more.

But before it eventually evaporated naturally- like the morning mist on Bare Lake this time of year- the debate detoured around to horses, cats, dogs and cows- which is quite common in any discussions around these parts.

In the end nobody really blamed Sam.

Although before the big debate, Sam Wainrite was really starting to get on folks nerves.

I guess it began about a month or so ago. “I got over forty friends…eighty…now, over a hundred friends” he would daily report; the implication was always the same, “I am popular, people like me-me and my new, best friends”-It irritated the heck out of his old best friends.

Most of the community is not sure why, but Sam crossed-over to the other side-he had become one of them.

It was in fact his daughter who got him started on his own social networking binge. She moved to Tocoma about a year ago and finally convinced him it was cheaper to stay in touch through social networking than to use long-distance telephone calls-it was the cost savings that really got Sam in the end.

A friend, real or virtual…the social networking reality is here to stay, and here to ponder for any human critter who hankers to be part of the present, global culture.

I remember back a few years, there was an interesting sociological study done about friendship.

The study was conducted by a group of grad students for the purpose to define and quantify the health of friendship. The results were very positive.

The study found that a good percentage of people placed a high value on the quality and quantity of friendships. Equally satisfying was that most of the group in the study were fulfilling their friendship needs. Friendships are important and most folks have sufficient friendships.

However, upon presenting their finding to the research director, a long-time professor of sociology, he was less than convinced of their findings. So he asked the students to do follow-up interviews. The professor’s doubts we confirmed and the grad students learned a powerful lesson about research, sociology and friendships.

It seems that in the follow-up interviews, the study group was asked to actually identify friends they had counted within their earlier ‘friendship-fold’; friends who they knew well, trusted and had related values; friends who they could count on and friends that cared about what was important to them.

It turned out that a disproportional number of ‘friends’ the study group had earlier identified were people like television celebrities, movie stars, politicians, recording artists, etc- virtual friends!

The humbled research students slinked back to their professor with their altered findings and declared their error; that most folks did not have as many ‘real’ friends as first thought.

But the professor still had another more important lesson yet to teach, “I disagree with your new findings. The people in the survey indeed do have friendships, both in quality and quantity. The only error was in your inability to design a measureable definition of Friendship. Without such a clear definition the data you obtain, and how well you can interpret that data, is compromised badly.

I guess I have always liked Del Munford’s friendship definition best. He said, “A true friend is someone who will still tolerate you after they get to know enough about you.”

Maybe that is as deep as we ever need to go.

Smarter friends are always those aware that if you think too much about it, it becomes too complicated and everything goes down the drain-like over-plowing a field, over-painting a painting or overwriting an article.

I guess that is what everyone finally agreed on; that friends are not something that you need to think about, it’s just something that you feel about- I guess love, ambition and making chili all fall under the shade of that same porch as well.

I was silent on the matter throughout the whole social-network/friends debate. It’s not that I didn’t find the ideas stimulating; I actually found the discussions fascinating.

Finally I was asked my opinion. I should have declined, preferring just to listen and learn, but I felt that they all were growing weary of the topic and ready to move on to something new. It might just be my last chance to be on the record as a contributor to the social relevant theme.

I told them that I try to balance my universe between human and animal friends.

I guess friendships are just like riding a horse; you learn to go partially with the rhythms which each horse operates- you try to find an acceptable compromise. You don’t push and pull, you just ‘flow’- you strive to become ‘one’ in exchange only after forfeiting part of yourself.

Besides, in the final analysis, the horse picks you, you don’t pick the horse.

These guys at the feed store all jutted out their bottom lip nodding-there was a consensus; Yep, animals are good reminders of the simplicity and the depth of true friends. They might never be so sure about such clarity of virtual friends.

I guess that is the secret to feeling comfort with any kind of friendships- critter or human-not really having to know too much about it, just enjoying the ride.

I think of all of my animals that I love, and think really love me- my true friends. I might wonder, ‘Do they love me because I feed, water, pet, groom and keep them in comfort from weather extremes throughout the year? Would they still be my friends in hard times? How would they react if I stopped giving them what they want and need? I mean, at the end of the day, isn't everyone programmed to satisfy their own agendas?

Then I remember something Granny Merkel once said, ‘Sometimes being ignorant is the smartest thing a person can do.’

Trying to ponder any deeper meanings of friends-real or virtual- it might be better off to just let sleeping dogs, or cats, horses, cows and whatever lie.