what would life be without friends ?
the answer: impossible.
we do need friends, ok, but of what kind ? how many can we handle ?
the supposed biological limit, known as the Dunbar's number is about 150-250, derived from studies of primates and dependent on memory and neocortex processing power.
but, in the 21st century machines have long abolished such barriers. "social" electronic networks make new connections effortless, databases store and retrieve any amount of data - have 5000 "friends" says facebook.
so, who or what is a friend ? a new definition is urgently needed or the term becomes void. i cobbled one quickly - below - a friendship exists when:
# face to face meeting occurred and can happen again
# good will is declared by both sides
# communication channels remain open
# areas of common interest exist
# both parties understand what reciprocity means
# no intent to deceive on either side
that does not sound like much but in early 21st century it's perhaps a lot.
i had to add Reciprocity to the list. Friendship walks on two legs, and when one is shorter than other it soon starts to hobble. Reciprocity is usually assumed but not always delivered, and it's meaning is culturally biased.