Friends: sometimes a pain in the butt, but I am better off with ’em.

This is a frequent topic during the Dark Days of December, January and February. And so it appears again.

This article about friendship is interesting. Yes, friends can be a pain in the butt, but:

Dealing with bad friends, getting dumped by them, and feeling disappointed with them is a stressful part of life, and it can harm your body and mind. Yet having no friends at all is a far worse fate. Imagine a child’s desperation for a playmate, a teenager’s deep longing for someone who ‘gets’ her, or an adult’s realisation that there is no one with whom he can share a failure or even a success. Loneliness is as painful as extreme thirst or hunger. John Cacioppo, a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, has found associations between loneliness and depression, obesity, alcoholism, cardiovascular problems, sleep dysfunction, high blood pressure, the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, cynical world views and suicidal thoughts. But if you have friend problems, you have friends – and that means you’re pretty lucky.

There is a mathematical aspect as well:

The first cold splash on an idealised notion of friendship is the data showing that only about half of friendships are reciprocal. This is shocking to people, since research confirms that we actually assume nearly all our friendships are reciprocal. Can you guess who on your list of friends wouldn’t list you?

One explanation for imbalance is that many friendships are aspirational: a study of teens shows that people want to be friends with popular people, but those higher up the social hierarchy have their pick (and skew the average). A corroborating piece of evidence, which was highlighted by Steven Strogatz in a 2012 article in The New York Times, is the finding that your Facebook ‘friends’ always have, on average, more ‘friends’ than you do. So much for friendship being an oasis from our status-obsessed world.

And I really don’t have a good feel for who actually likes me and who …well, merely tolerates me. And there is the old “love/hate” relationships and yes, I have at least one of those.

And there is the complication of Facebook: it sure *appears* that one of my “Facebook friends” has morphed into a genuine friend. Time will tell.


December 18, 2016 - Posted by | social/political |


  1. I really like you, Ollie!

    Comment by Lynn | December 19, 2016 | Reply

    • and obviously, the feeling is mutual. 🙂

      Comment by blueollie | December 19, 2016 | Reply

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