Got some keen insight into reality a couple of years back.

Oilman2‘s son was doing some work for us on a project and on a lunch break we got to talking about “friends” on social media.

He was just finishing college and had lots of friends on social media.  But, he was shocked at how real friends work out.  You see, he’d moved to rural East Texas and went into the local Tractor Supply store to pick up a few things.  Chatted with a couple of the younger TS employees.  You know, the catalog desk and checkout.  Normal stuff.

Nothing exceptional so far, right?  Where it became exceptional was when he went back a week or two later and the employees remembered him by name.

That doesn’t happen on social media.

Sure, there are silly “Like” and “Follow” buttons.  But once you reach a certain level of personal security and actual begin to own your life, rather than living in a rental shell life, the definition of a “friend” begins to change.

I have counted maybe three or four obvious levels of “friends.” The hierarchy goes something like this:

  1. No friends.  We probably all know people who are mostly devoid of “friends.”  Usually, seems to be a choice they have made…a bad one.  When a “friend” does something you don’t understand or like, there’s only one adult course of action:  Sit down and talk about it.  But, some people are so full of “pride” that they will burn bridges and damn whoever they don’t agree with forever.  Bottom line?  They don’t have many – if any – real long-term friends.
  2. Phony Friends:  This is where most of the social media addicts end up.  They pretend to have “friends” but when comes down to it, how do they reveal themselves to be phonies?  Well, on social media, how many of thief “friends” and “followers” have their phone number?  Have they ever even had a live conversation (Zoom and Skype count too) with them?  If they bust a leg, get fired, get dumped, of 1,000 followers, how many will pick up the phone and reach out?  Usually none.
  3. Friends In Training (FIT):  Not everyone gets to be my friend.  I have several people who are in the “friends in training” category.  These are people who you may not get to spend much “face time” with, but you admire and respect their skills, and wouldn’t mind hanging out with ’em.  On the other hand, you haven’t known them long enough to find out whether they have a dark side and are willing to accept whatever your shortcomings are.
  4. Short Term Friends:  These are people you’ve known for more than a couple of years but less than 10-years, or so.  Everyone is “on probation” for the first 10-years.  Usually, in 10 or 15-years, if the person has “issues” or doesn’t meet your personal conduct or behavior expectations, you cut ’em loose.  With 7.6 billion people in the world, there’s no shortage of potential friends.  There is, for all of us, a definite shortage of time.  And in the end, we get to judge ourselves at “life review” come the end of Life.  To work up a great Life Review, you need to invest in people the same way you do with the stock market, real estate, or any other asset.  Carefully!
  5. Long-Term Friends and Friends for Life: (LTFs or FFLs) These are people who are genuinely your  pals and have your back. Other than relatives, which are a whole different kettle of fish, FFLs are what takes life and turns it into a constant source of joy.  These are the key people in your Master Mind Group.  Sure, they get to be critical of whatever you’re doing, but the criticism is tempered with (first and foremost) a sense of “inquiry.”  They are not “rush to judgment” people.  They have your sincere best interests at heart so if you don’t explain yourself clearly (or if you actually do something dumb…) they will pin your ears back nut gently try to get their point of view into your thinking.

What are Your “Friend’s” Profiles?

Something I learned from my parents – though I doubt anyone would be so politically incorrect – yet success-oriented to say this any more – is that “You become like the people you hang around.”

I have what I’d consider 6 or 7 long-term friends.  Their typical net worth runs from half a million on up to many millions.  They tend to be in solid long-term marriages, grown children (if any) and have both amazing technical skills in their chosen professions along with a demanding philosophy of inquiry.  Average IQ’s are over 130.

They are also high-energy people.  They have gutted their way through life and working 60-hours a week doesn’t begin to phase them.  Not one damn bit. To a person (for the mix is female and male) they are all about building an outcome with any tasks worthy of their attention and effort.

Whether it takes 5-minutes or 70-hours doesn’t matter to them.  They are “owners of outcomes” and at any cost.

Much has been said (and written) about the David Goggins book “Can’t Hurt Me” on the topic of mental toughness.  To a person, each of my long-term friends has this “tough-as-nails” quality and each is harder on themselves than anyone else.

My buddy “the Major” is down here this week.  We have been friends since I was 3-1/2 years old.  We’ve spent a lot of time this week reflecting on this quality of some people to be brutally hard on themselves.  Most people are excusifiers.

You have no idea the savory pleasure of knowing another human being for 50-years or more.  Imagine being in a checkout line (at age 70) and recalling when we were both going through the 3rd-grade fad of making cinnamon toothpicks.

The Major would buy a quarter ounce of sweetened cinnamon oil from the old Owens Pharmacy on Beacon Hill in Seattle.  Cost him 15-cents, or so.  Then he’d  gather up toothpicks by the hundreds.  Soaked for a day and dried, he sold 10 for a quarter at the Catholic grade school he attended.  I already had a supplier (Harvey Toy) at my public grade school.

My second-longest friend is Gaye Levy whose Strategic Living blog is a constant source of “better living” ideas.  We met in 1973, or so, when she was with the federal government just after college. So, we’ve been friends for 46-years. I haven’t known her husband quite as long.  It took her a couple of years of sorting out the “Mr. Wrongs” to finally get to Mr. Right and it’s been a pleasurable friendship with both.

She introduced me to essential oils (see her site as it’s a gold mine on topic) and I’ve got some personal experiments coming up using verbena oil as a result.

It should be obvious that friendship between partners in a marriage is the greatest constituent of marital bliss.  If you have your absolute best friend (in my case, Elaine) and toss in enough money to keep the wolves at bay, even at 70 every day is to be savored.  Elaine and I are now almost 20-years into our marriage and the quality of friendship continues to be marvelous.  I learn from her, she learns from me.

Seems in today’s world – and maybe this is brainwashing at work – that people are far too focused on their sexual energies and not enough on the mental and emotional aspects of life partnering.  The key point this morning being that when materialism trumps friendships, the end is nigh.

One of the best measurements of a friend is (borrowing an Army recruiting phrase) whether they “Help you be all that you can be…”  Nice, easy metric.  All of my close friends nail it.

Mark your calendar: National Friendship Day comes up August 4th.

You don’t need a lot of “short term” friends. The cost of not having a bunch of “likes” is what?  As I’ve got it figured, “likes” and “follows” are worthless unless you have a monetization plan. Otherwise, it’s a useless time sink with no payback or return on investment (of time).

Instead of large empty numbers, focus on who  the 2 or 3 really high-quality people are in your life and don’t screw those relationships up.  With any luck, you’ll collect that precious handful that make the 20-year mark.

Sure, there’s a category for “casual friends” – people you meet who you’d like to be friends with.  But that’s a hard one to sort through.  Because friends take time and that’s something we all have too little of.

If I ever offend anyone who wants to be my friend, rest assured that it isn’t because I don’t like friends.  It’s just that when you have solid, quality, long-term friends, they come first and you need to be there for them. That doesn’t mean you don’t “cover your own butt,” however.

Quandaries of life, this friendship stuff.

Write when you feel friendly,