Social media encourages us to think about friendship in terms of quantity rather than quality. If you’re concerned about your social life, you can just pop on over to Facebook and find out how many friends you have. If you have lots of friends—hurray!—then you must be a happy, well-adjusted person, right? And if you don’t have a lot of friends—well, I’m sorry, but I’m just going to have to assume that you are a one-eyed octopedal mutant incapable of communicating with humanoid life forms. That’s how it works, right? A greater number of friends equals increased quality of social life?
No, actually. Not at all.
As we all hopefully know by now, social media does not offer an even remotely accurate system for measuring how many real friends a person has. Networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter might tell us how many people we are loosely connected to, but they lack the ability to tell us what those connections mean. People use the word “friend” to describe a variety of social relationships, from “person I chat with at parties but whom I never see otherwise” to “person I’m friends with only at work” to “person I love like a sibling” to “full-on kindred spirit .” Of course it’s fun to get to know different kinds of people and to have a large social network, but I would take a few tried-and-true friendships over hordes of friendly acquaintances any day. Crowds might be fun at parties, but nothing is better than having a friend who knows everything about you—and who somehow still thinks you’re awesome.
Here are a few reasons that besties are, well, the best. (Fact: All of my best friends immediately stopped being friends with me for writing something that cheesy.)
1. You have your own language
When close friends get together, they speak their own language, a unique dialect made up of private jokes and half-sentences that no one else understands. Irritating for other people? Probably. But if you’re one of the few speaks the language, it’s the best.
2. When you haven’t seen each other in a long time, things go right back to normal when you do see each other
Seeing someone for the first time after a long separation is always a little intimidating. But with a close friend, the friendship bounces right back, no matter how long it’s been. There’s no awkwardness, no stilted catch-up: it’s as if the separation never happened.
3. You can be honest about who you are
With close friends, you never have to worry about whether or not they like you. You already know they do! Even if you're gotten worse as a human since they initially decided to be your friend, chances are, they're way to lazy to reexamine you closely enough to realize it, let alone go through the effort of dumping you! We're never a highly critical of someone as when we first meet them, so with close friends, the scrutiny is off—you are free to be yourself, and to be as strange as you are deep down in your weirdo soul.
4. With close friends, you know you can be honest…But you also know when to lie
Because close friendships have a high level of trust, you can be honest when you give advice. You know that your friend will listen to what you have to say and be grateful the your frankness. Likewise, you know that when it’s your turn to face the hard truths, your friends will be there for you. That said, sometimes truth-bombs can leave massive destruction in their wake. A really good friend knows when to lay everything out there, and when to hold back.
5. Your close friends are your emergency contacts (no, I mean literally)
People often say that, when you’re in a bad situation, you find out who your friends really are. This is a cliché because it’s true. As we get older, and we move further and further away from our families (both geographically and emotionally), friends become increasingly important as support systems in difficult situations. When I was in college, away from home, I was in an accident and had to be taken to the emergency room. I called one of my good friends from the ambulance, and she immediately hopped on a bus and met me at the hospital. It wasn’t just nice to have a friend there with me—it was essential.
Distant friends—people you can joke around with at parties, or grab a drink with after work—can be great in a lot of ways. But when things stop being polite and start getting real—whether you’ve had a health scare, or family problems, or just a really, really bad day—knowing there are people who stand by you through it all is the best comfort there is.
Images: Jessica Blankenship/Facebook; Giphy(4)