Today we contemplate the idea of friendship, inspired by this Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. quote. How many friends do you have? How many are REALLY good friends, that would you call at 3am if you were having an real emergency? Being a real friend is a game of give and take, offering and receiving support and confidence when needed, as well as just being available to each other. There are some very good points make in this out take of an article on friendship from Psychology Today:
In many ways, best friends say what you wish your parents might have said to you. After all, friends are part of the family you create instead of the family you’re born into—and they can understand many aspects of your life that your own family members cannot or will not accept.
I expect a great deal from my truly good friends—don’t you? Don’t you expect your friends to see straight through you–to look beyond the window dressing, or even the blackout curtains, to see what’s really inside? Don’t you expect your best friends to know not only how you like the furniture in the “public rooms” of your life arranged, but also to know what you keep the “junk drawers” of your life?
My friend, even though she would deny it, is smarter, funnier, braver, and more beautiful than she knows.
It’s also obvious, as soon as you meet us, that is she is much kinder, more generous, and more giving than I could ever be (even on a major holiday). There’s nobody in the world with her particular talents and strengths. Yet, like many extraordinary people, she shrugs off her magic as if it’s nothing special.
As a friend, however, I take her gift very seriously and celebrate it. I can lend her self-confidence, self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment as easily as I could lend her a safety-pin. That’s what friends do, right? When she needs to hear about the importance of what she does and who she is, I’m grateful to act as a cheering chorus. When I feel as if I’m wasting time, wasting space and spinning my wheels, she reminds me why putting words on paper, or getting up in front of a group to speak, matters. …via Why Friends Are (Sometimes) Better Than Family | Psychology Today
However, sometimes we can end up comparing ourselves to those friends who are truly near and dear to us. Is there a sneaking feeling that, while you might have them as your one and only BFF, that they have seem to have not just a couple other mates, but a whole stable of besties? These feelings are actually scientifically founded, but take heart, as technically most people are in the same situation. Following is a bit on studies of that aspect of friendship:
Back in 1991, the sociologist Scott Feld made a surprising discovery while studying the properties of social networks. Feld calculated the average number of friends that a person in the network has and compared this to the average number of friends that these friends had.
Against all expectations it turned out that the second number is always bigger than the first. Or in other words, your friends have more friends than you do.
The paradox arises because numbers of friends people have are distributed in a way that follows a power law rather than an ordinary linear relationship. So most people have a few friends while a small number of people have lots of friends.
It’s this second small group that causes the paradox. People with lots of friends are more likely to number among your friends in the first place. And when they do, they significantly raise the average number of friends that your friends have. That’s the reason that, on average, your friends have more friends than you do.
That has significant implications for the way people perceive themselves given that their friends will always seem happier, wealthier and more popular than they are. And the problem is likely to be worse in networks where this is easier to see. “This might be the reason why active online social networking service users are not happy,” say Eom and Jo, referring to other research that has found higher levels of unhappiness among social network users.
For those of you who are active on social media platforms and feeling left out of the marvellous life your friends are all seemingly living, take heart the friendship paradox is a numbers game and you’re only seeing the few who are doing the most. And if that doesn’t make you feel better here is a clip to boost that ego, because it is almost guaranteed you are able to make at least one friend without a ‘Friendship Algorithm’.