I've taken strides to use the word correctly. When I began playing kickball and suddenly had a couple hundred acquaintances, I'd find myself making the distinction when talking to others. "A friend of mine...well, actually, an acquantance of mine..." as if giving the friend designation to an acquaintance would somehow dilute the true friend's stature in my head, heart, and life.
And it does.
I have a couple coworkers who are friends and I sometimes stammer over their title when talking about them. "My coworker...well, she's really my friend...my coworker-slash-friend..." sometimes trips off my tongue. On good days, I settle on "A coworker who's a friend of mine," because I think it matters. I have coworkers who are not friends and coworkers who are. For whatever reason, that stratification matters to me.
Then along came Facebook to muck everything up with their new word, "Friend."
Oh, the Friend Requests came rolling in and went rolling out.
I know him! I know her! I haven't seen him since we graduated 20 years ago! That girl lived down the street from my grandparents when I was 5! Didn't we just meet 10 minutes ago?!
Hello! How are you? Where do you live now? Are you married? Kids?
These scintillating questions and many more could be answered via the Facebook Friendship.
But a funny thing happened with time.
Some of us started pruning our Friends list. Out of concern for my professional life, I started limiting the access of coworkers to my personal life on Facebook. I didn't limit the access of my friends; just my acquaintances.
Per Merriam-Webster, an acquaintance is a person whom one knows but who is not a particularly close friend.
As I pruned my Friends list, I decided they had to fall into one of three categories in order to stay:
1. We have to be friends in real life;
2. We have to interact on Facebook occasionally; or
3. I have to feel too guilty deleting you.
That last one has kept many a person on my list.
And then came the 2012 Presidential Election Season.
Binders of Women
Rape babies being gifts from God
As an outspoken Liberal lesbian woman, I had some fun during the last six months or so. And I came to a very clear understanding of myself, the position of the Republican Party, and my willingness -- or lack thereof -- to have people who support the Republican Party as my Friends. And ultimately, as my friends.
I made my position known to people over the last few days. I had been Unfriending acquaintances all along based on some of their political posts. But knowing some folks were keeping their feelings close to their chests, I made a declaration. Basically, if you vote for Mitt Romney, go ahead and delete me.
In my mind, we would always be acquaintances, but there was no need for us to be Friends and certainly not friends. I would not let someone come into my home and deny me basic human rights, so why on earth would I allow these people access to my personal life online? There is no "agree to disagree" on this issue and yes, I am intolerant of your intolerance. Guess what? I'm allowed to be. As a member of several minority groups being oppressed by a majority, I get to be intolerant of your views. I have no power over you.
If you were my friend, you'd fight for me. If you were my friend, you'd fight for everyone. If you were my friend, there would be no issue so important that you would overlook the insanity that is the 2012 Republican Party Platform. We just do not agree on some very basic concepts.
And so, you do not get to be my Friend or friend. You are an acquaintance. I will not be rude to you and will greet you should we run into each other in person. But that's all I have for you.
If you truly support the Republican Party, I don't know why you'd want to be friends with me in the first place.
You see, the word friend means something to me. And no matter what Facebook thinks, Friends are not necessarily friends.