HOW many friends do you have?
How you answer that question has a lot to do with your age and where you spend your time on the Internet.
Until recently, most people would answer with a figure low enough to count on the fingers of their hands. With the rise of Facebook, however, the definition of “friend” has changed.
It’s no longer someone you depend on who can also depend on you. Instead, it’s a list of people you often know only casually, even if you rarely see them face to face.
The shift in the meaning of the word “friend” is one of the most dangerous things that has happened to society over the past few years. By usurping the meaning of “friend”, people in real need are being put at risk, because when they need friends, they’re learning often too late that the word no longer means what it once did.
Simone Back, for example, had 1,082 “friends” on Facebook. One Christmas Day, she posted a note on her wall: “Took all my pills be dead soon so bye bye every one.”
If someone I knew said something like that, I’d call her, call her neighbours and call the police to make sure she was all right. But from the looks of things, I’m probably a better friend than many of those 1,000+ people, because here’s what they did.
Some mocked her. Eight minutes after that post, one of her “friends” commented, “She ODs [overdoses] all the time and she lies.”
One minute later, another person commented, “I hope that she is lying about this or you’re going to feel guilty tomorrow.”
Two hours later, a response from the first person: “She does it all the time, takes all her pills. She’s not a kid anymore.”
It doesn’t appear that anyone did anything until the next day when someone finally contacted Simone with a text message that said, “Get help.” By that point, it was too late.
Soon after, a post appeared on Simone’s Facebook page: “My daughter Simone passed away today so please leave her alone now.”
How does this happen? How does someone type something like that and no one does anything?
Maybe one of the people who commented knows the answer. Before learning about Simone’s tragic fate, that person wrote: “What’s wrong with you people?? Is the gossip really more important than her?”
You can call someone a friend all you want, but actions speak louder than words. And in this case, the response to that second question concerning gossip is probably “yes”.
What is worse, we don’t know what Simone did after posting on Facebook.
Maybe she sat at her computer waiting for someone to tell her to get help. Maybe she wanted to read that people really did care.
Maybe she saw some of the awful things people started saying before she died.
I wonder if the person who posted the first comment realise that he or she had a chance to save Simone’s life.
Look at your “friends” list. Think about each name. Are you invested enough in their lives to give support in a time of need? If not, maybe you should let them go.
If Simone Back had done that, her “friends” list would have been smaller, but its quality would have been much greater.
And she would still be alive. - By Erick Rommel, CNS