‘Me and my BFF,’ a friend recently wrote under a picture of himself with, well, I guess another friend of his on Facebook. The first thing I thought when I saw this picture was; ‘Are the rest of us not as important?’
This is someone that I, and other friends, spend a lot of time with and this person in his picture: we hardly know. They didn’t grow up together or anything- none of us did- yet he had publicly declared that she is more important than the rest of us. As you might have gathered; I was quite offended by his declaration. Offended as I was, I’m not quite a believer in BFF’s. In fact, I think of it as a very childish concept. Honestly! I do not believe there is such a thing as ‘best friends forever’.
It’s just something I’ve never been able to grasp in all 26 years of being on this planet. Even on the school playground I knew there were people in my friendship circle that were more close than others, I just never warmed up to the idea that I should be finding my confidant within the group too. If we are all such chums why do we have to skinner about the others anyway? Why are some afforded special time and privileges over others? What is it that this other person has that the rest of us don’t? Psychologists suggest that children who grow up this way- having a BFF- tend to be more confident as adults. Personally, having never been that person who plays the ‘birds of a feather’ game, I find it desperately childish when an adult goes on about ‘my best friend...’. More than immature I also find it insensitive to the other people in your life that must now be made to feel less important than the one you’ve declared your best buddy. That’s how the playground works; there’s the popular kids and the not-so-popular kids. The more popular ones, by virtue of being, automatically become the more important ones.Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should be having six ‘best friends’. I’m saying you need to get over the fact that a best friend exists to start with. I have several people I call friends, as I hope most of us do. I relate to each of them differently. There are categories of personal issues I can share with one friend that I can’t with another. There are friends I can borrow money from when I need to and those that I cannot ever speak to about anything finance related. There are friends I love going out on the town with and those whose enthusiasm about the social scene makes them a schlep to take with to a club, for instance. There are friends I discuss current affairs with and those who don’t even know what the hell it is I am talking about when I refer to Nkandla. None of the people I know fit in all of these categories, yet they all have a special place in my life. In my mind, if you are going to designate this one person as the ultimate then they must fit into all these categories to make them such a perfect being that others can’t measure up to. I’ve learnt to appreciate my various friends for their individuality and not for their ability to fit into my little BFF box. I can’t imagine calling one of them more important just because they lend me cash when I need it, for instance. It’s either you are a friend or acquaintance. There’s no in-betweens and most certainly no hierarchy.
- This column was originally published in the Sunday Independent newspaper on the 28th of April 2013