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11:04 a.m. - December 11, 2006
Circles Of Friends
Friends – we have them in real life. We have close friends, casual acquaintances, people you say “Hi!” too, people you work with and once in a while break bread with, and best buds for life.

And it’s the same with people online as well.

Whether you meet them in forums, chat rooms, through their blogs and journals, or on a spot like MySpace, you develop friendships that are just as real as friends that you have in your flesh and blood life. Even if you never gaze on their visage in real life – they are friends.

Of course, it’s great when you DO see them – it’s almost like Christmas. But without the wrapping paper, and ribbon, and cats who play with the tree.

So I was cogitating on this whole thing, and I’ve decided that there are five circles on online friends. Whether it be friends who read your dribblings on the ‘net, or post in your forums, or leave smart-aleck comments on your pages, they are your friends, your buds, your homies.

So below, there are five circles of friends, and each will have the all important ‘move’ test – would you help this person move? I think that’s the true sign of friendship.

I haven’t come up with cute of clever names, except for Circles 1 to 5, so feel free to name them at your leisure.

Circle 1 – This is THE inner circle. The people in this circle are your most trusted online friends. You have at least two or three ways to contact this person. It’s likely you have their cell phone number, and an alternate email address besides the one that’s publicly listed. You read them without fail, and they read you without fail.

Circle 1 friends give and receive goodies, like mix CDs. They send each other idiotic text messages at odd hours. You don’t have to worry about a Circle 1 friend – they won’t turn on you. They will support you no matter what you do – or how much you screw up. If you anger them, they will let you know and you WILL work it out. And if you don’t hear from them for a week, you get worried.

When you are traveling, and you are within 50 miles of a Circle 1 friend, you WILL make arrangements to meet, if at all possible. In fact, you may change travel plans in order to meet them. If you live in the same area as a Circle 1 friend, you WILL do lunch with them whenever possible.

Move Test - You would help them move no matter where it is or how much stuff they have. In fact, you’d help them move the body.

There is a subset of Circle 1 friends, that besides helping you move the body – would help dig the hole and pour in the quicklime.

Circle 2 – These are pretty close friends. While you won’t tell them everything, you will stay in pretty close contact with them. More often than not, you’ll chat with them on IM if you’re both online and not engaged somewhere else. You read them pretty much without fail, and comment and note them when warranted. They do the same to you. You probably have their cell phone number and an email address that’s more private.

Circle 2 friends also exchange tokens, as they are pretty important people to each other. But the support isn’t totally unequivocal. If you anger them, it may take some time for them to forgive you – but they probably will. If you don’t hear from them for a fortnight, then you get worried that something is up.

When traveling, if you are close by to them, you’ll make arrangements to meet them and spend some time with them.

Move Test - Yes, you’d help them move. In fact, if there’s a body that needs to be moved, you’d be the lookout for a Circle 2 friend, and develop a series of code words in case they’re cheesed by the fuzz. And when the body is moved, you’ll help clean up the mess in the bathroom.

Circle 3 – They’re your everyday, run of the mill friends. (Not that all friends aren’t special, but some friends are more special than others.) You read them and comment them, and they also reciprocate, but they’re not you’re A-1 priority if you have a limited online time. Mostly you contact them through their well known email address or via comments and notes.

If you’re a nut like me, you also send stuff to your Circle 3 friends, especially if they as for a mix CD. But if you anger a Circle 3 friend, it may take some time for them to forgive and forget. You may have to spend some time in penance for your sins. You notice that they’ve been silent for a while, and send out notes after 3 weeks or so just to be sure they weren’t hit by a bus.

If you’re in the same town as a Circle 3 friend – you’ll definitely try to grab a drink or a bite to eat with them. But if you miss connections, you won’t be totally devastated.

Move Test - Sure, you’d help them move. But there had better be pizza and beer. And it better not be cheap beer, either – break out the good stuff. You’re not going to risk a hernia trying to lift their box springs for Budweiser.

Circle 4 – You probably have just met this person, or just exchange notes and comments once in a while. You read them and comment on occasion, but there’s no rush, and if you miss a few entries, that’s OK (unless they’re a good writer, and then you admire their craft and really want to read them all the time).

You are nice and pleasant to Circle 4 friends, and you probably don’t interact enough to really anger them. If you do, then you may or may not be able to win them back.

If you get wind that you’re in the same town as a Circle 4 friend – and you have some free time to kill – you may go out for a drink with them. That will probably make you closer friends, or you will realize that you’ll just be forever on the margins with this person.

Move Test - Something will have come up, like your Aunt Agnes has an ingrown toenail, so you can’t help them move. But you WILL show up at the housewarming.

Circle 5 – These are the people that you say “Hi!” to in the hallway, or just exchange waves with. You read them on occasion, and comment if it’s warranted but don’t go out of your way.

There’s no doubt that you can cultivate this into a deeper friendship, but for now you’re just content with a look and a wave. Friends here come and go, and once in a while you may wonder ‘Whatever happened to…” but it doesn’t concern you too much!

Move Test - You send them a link for professional movers in their area.

Well, there’s my list of the circle of friendships. Now if you’ll hand me the quicklime…


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