Friend, buddy, chum, pal. They are just words, not instant summaries. I started counting up different types of people I like in different ways, and got bogged down. They can’t all fall under the same umbrella word ‘friend’, can they?
I’ve been on a singles website for nearly two years because it has a lively blogging facility and have got to know some people really well, to the point where we chat almost on a daily basis. I’ve never met them, probably never will meet them, although I would go out of my way to have a drink or a coffee together if the chance ever came up. Virtual friends, oh yes, but it’s hard to hide behind the written word for that long without exposing fatal flaws.
I follow, and am followed by, hundreds of people on Twitter – I’ve met, hmm, about twenty of them, a fluctuating group of us meet up several times a year, always fun. Friends.
I have friends on Facebook – some genuinely are, scattered all over the world, we often haven’t seen each other in years and may never meet again, but we share news and photos. Some are colleagues from earlier jobs, and some are writers I may one day meet. Facebook calls them all friends.
One penpal, a writing contact, has been a great friend and support, yet we’ve never met and will never meet. ‘Penpal’ doesn’t begin to cover it!
Real life, a handful. Very highly valued. It’s easy to find out who’s a true friend – screw up, or go through a challenging time, then see who sticks around. Okay, easy isn’t the right word. But definitely interesting!
Yet what is a person who is entertaining, amusing, but ducks out whenever they have something more interesting on, or you aren’t as much fun as usual? When you are back to yourself, there they are, entertaining and charming, fair-weather friends who can make the sunshine seem brighter, but you can’t rely on them the way you can on a real friend.
My books are about friendship, but it tends to be the tried-and-true type. There is a place for these others because they are in my life, and in yours too. What do YOU call the different types?