Facebook has stolen the term "friend." I want it back.
During the July Melee of Fucking Morons, in one of the countless Facebook threads, Molly B. wrote:
"As a one-time friend of [Literate Ape's], and often defender: I apologize for having enabled this harmful person..."
A) Molly and the Literate Ape KNEW each other and were on FRIENDLY TERMS. This does not mean we were ever friends.
B) Fuck you, Molly. Go peddle your self righteous horseshit to someone in need of the smell.
Actually, without bothering to actually change that opening line, let me amend it: I Do Not want it back. You can have it, FB Army. "Friends" as defined in such broad and uncritical terms are too much work for the reward.
Like 'ally' the term has become unhelpful to actual flesh and blood humans. A middle-aged white male wannabe literary notable can host a show in town with no concern whatsoever for the fact that the curation of his stage and his audience are overwhelmingly white and hipster. If he spends some time writing the correct and acceptable words about white privilege and castigates Garrison Keillor for his unbearable whiteness of being, he is seen as an 'ally' of those voices so frequently left out of the discourse. This in spite of his casual blind eye to the issue for six plus years.
A million light years ago, as my then girlfriend was embroiled in an extra-marital affair behind my back (who later became my second ex-wife and subsequently spent the last year of our marriage in an extra-marital affair) and she cut it off, her thwarted paramour took it upon himself to wage a tiny war against me, the ultimate cockblocker to his cheating. I've never been a real "hang out" kind of guy but he was and so when the leadership brought me in to discuss the bad blood this cat was fomenting and it was implied that I was somehow to blame for it, his social game had trumped mine.
"Look," said the gregarious leader. "We've been friends a long time..."
"No." I shot back. "We've never been 'friends.' We've been colleagues, buddies, bros - however you label it. But a friend? Nah."
Maybe it's because I'm a tad misanthropic or just that I'm a dick, but I don't have nor want a lot of people with whom there is the expectation to 'hangout' and socialize. I've never been much of a 'go drink with my work colleagues' type and even those of whom I consider actual friends do I spend an awful lot of time going out and doing that social thing.
When you balance that with my "live out loud" proclivities, the recipe for feeling like you know me plus the fact that you don't creates a bit of a tempest.
The best part (if there is to be a best part of an online smear campaign) is that it definitely separates genuine friends from the bullshit ones. Genuine friends have your back. Genuine friends stand up for you. Genuine friends don't sit on the fence and, if nothing else, are not quick to believe the false narrative painted by a handful of disgruntled eighth graders.
I may not have a lot of friends but the ones I have are exactly that. Genuine.