Manila-- I have a total of 350 friends on Facebook. When I joined FB in 2009, all I wanted was a closed group of 20 or 30 people whom I knew, as I only have about three to five BFFs who know who I truly am and who I can always call for a chat. These are people I treasure for life.
That’s how I define BFF or best friends forever. Some people say we should only have one best friend, that one person who cares for us every single moment even if we are not physically together and who knows our strengths and difficulties.
But in this day and age of changing social scenery, BFF has taken on a different meaning, depending on who’s forging friendships. Finding friends, discarding old ones and acquiring new ones has changed at a dizzying pace thanks to social media. Our circles of friends have come to include people we just met in a conference who friend-requested us afterward. Contrary to my planned 20 or so FB friends, the figure of 350 began to seem inevitable. Or should I say 350 and counting?
My friend count is not too bad, but I marvel at people who have 3,000 FB friends. Some label their accounts “full,” meaning they can no longer accept new friends as they have reached their ceiling.
When I told friends about my original plan to have only 20 people on FB, they advised that I just form a chat group, where sharing of photos and thoughts is more private. Well, I get to chat with friends all right, but with threats of information leaks and data breaches, the number of chat apps have multiplied to the point that some friends ask me to download the app they’re using so we can connect.
So how many apps should we download to be able to connect and enjoy our relationships? Not to mention being protected and secured while we talk and probably share information? How many FB friends should we have? When I looked at my friends list, I followed the tip I read somewhere on how to “de-clutter” my social media friends list using a simple rule of thumb: “Do you plan on reaching out to that person in the next six months?”
My “no” answer applied to more than half of the people on my list. In the last few months, I unfriended a few people because of different reasons: one was a schoolmate who I was never close to because she was a rich kid who hung out with the rich kids and I wasn’t; one was someone I met in a seminar who is a perpetual rant engine on anything political and I find that noisy; and one was simply someone I don’t like.
So give me a break. Saying no can mean so many things to people, but my “no” was relatively kind, not to those people I unfriended, but to myself. To the friends I said yes to, they will remain my source of inspiration or my daily dose of useful information because Facebook is also my source of news from the journalist-friends who post useful news because of their constant pulse of what’s going on in my country and globally.
In this world where all of us have a social media footprint that can leave us vulnerable with the limitless social space, we still need our BFFs and the persons who keep us grounded and who can keep a secret while everyone is oversharing and friending people they don’t even know.
Diana Mendoza is a freelance journalist who currently contributes to Inter Press Service, VERA Files, Rappler and is an editor and managing partner of the news site, Women Writing Women Philippines. She has written for the Manila Chronicle, Manila Times, Today and Reuters. She has also worked in different capacities as a program officer or consultant in government, civil society, diplomatic and international development organizations