A Campaign for Real Friends
I am suggesting a global initiative to fight off the fault lines of friendship and turn around this generational social isolation trend. It takes energy. It can take courage. And the effort needs to start today, not when the pandemic is over, and we’ve all been vaccinated, and you’ll be racing off to other things. Let’s call this liminal period “A Campaign for Real Friends”.
Breaking it down:
It’s a campaign—we want people to make a concerted nine month effort to reach out and make a dent in resewing existing connections and cultivating new meaningful connections during this middle stage of the pandemic
It’s real—we’ll make the distinction here: Facebook Friends are not real friends, they are the equivalent of the couchsurfer who stayed on your couch for one night, only to move to the next passing town—the type of friendship we are talking about here is genuine peership
It’s friends—there are colleagues, associates, random acquaintances, social followers and distant confrères: unless they are getting elevated a rung or two on your social ladder we’re not talking about those people; we want true reciprocal friendships—real friends are those rare people that ask how we are and actually wait for the answer (and vice-versa)
We are also adding in a focus across two DIFFERENT levels and two DIFFERENT caveats described below. We are asking people to go outside the boundaries of family, as much as they may be genuine friends. Blood-based friends have a different duty of obligation. We presume you may have 5-10 family friends that would make your overall number climb above thirty. We are also not talking about friends of utility where peering happens based on what friends can singularly provide you, not what you both can enjoy.
The Mission of The Campaign for Real Friends
Over the course of the next nine months, we want you to establish and re-establish strong connections with 24 Real Friends. Six (6) on the inside circle—we’ll call them best friends, Eighteen (18) on the outside circle—let’s call these people close friends.
Don’t be afraid. You are doing this as much for their benefit as you are yours.
Let’s Define The Two Circles:
Six (6) Best Friends*:
Noted anthropologist Robin Dunbar suggests we have 5 intimate friends. Much of his work might have been a generous understanding of what an intimate friend means and we know since his early 2000s work, these numbers have been creeping down. This closest circle might be most under stress as there is research to suggest the average person might be down to one close friend (Source: Business Insider). Let’s define them:
These are people you would turn to in a crisis
These would be people that you could trust with their confidences on a wide variety of things and know they won’t pass judgement on you
These are people that genuinely care about your well-being