What Everyone Ought to Know About Fans and Friends

What Everyone Ought to Know About Fans and Friends

If you’re trying to be my friend you have to meet some basic criteria: You must be a kind person, be ambitious, be open to personal growth, and I must respect and admire you.

If you think we’re friends, and you don’t meet this criteria, then you’re my fan. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate my fans, but do differentiate them from friends.

I’m certainly not above making new connections – I pride myself on being able to make friends quickly and easily – I just don’t have the capacity to devote time to friends if everyone is my friend.

Friends Vs. Fans

With the advances in transportation, communication and now the popularity of social networking it’s never been easier to keep in touch. Become popular enough, or a social networking whore, and you’ll have no time for anything but entertaining superficial relationships with fans and strangers.

If you’re not popular enough – or don’t have enough exposure to new people – then you’re in danger of settling for friends that don’t meet your own personal criteria. Deep connections with the wrong people can be just as bad as superficial connections with too many right people.

As you can probably already tell a happy medium exists somewhere in the equation. Make no mistake, you don’t want to compromise on the quality of the people that you surround yourself with. What you do want is to have an amount of people in your life that you can devote enough time to in order to maintain deep connections.

Certain friends require more maintenance than others. I have friends that I can call once every couple of months, we catch up and empower each other on our journey, and then go about our separate lives. Then there are friends that I keep up with weekly or even daily.

When things are not totally reciprocal, such as when a person with less connections wants to make friends with a very connected person, a phenomenon known as “fan” happens. One person might respect and admire the other, while the other might not have had the pleasure to find this out about them.

It’s important to realize when you are being a fan. If you’re a fan of too many people, you might not have enough time left over to nurture deep friendships and  still get your work done.

The solution is time management (or possibly friend management) and is a two-step process involving honesty and assertiveness. Be clear with people that you cannot devote time to them because you’re working towards a very important goal. At the same time, make it a point to not only devote time to your friends but really be with them and listen.

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”
~Walter Winchell.

They say that sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down. The real friends, the ones that aren’t just fans, will come-a-knockin regardless of whether you’re up or down.

Posted by in Communication, Relationships | August 17, 2009 | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumble | Print | 7 comments

  • http://www.sarahmerion.com @SarahMerion

    Very interesting concept Alex. In Social Media, this is an especially important topic for us, as the line between friend, fan, and business connection often gets blurred.

  • http://www.scoopstheblog.com Stacey Cooper

    Great post! This sums up the entire past year and half for me where I started on my journey on re-evaluating all the relationships in my life. The result, I have a solid core of friends that meet all of the right criteria you mention above.

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  • http://www.36pounds.com Adrian

    Nice post. Makes me think…

    I am a guy that builds up walls.. and see who breaks them. Not sure this is a good thing to do though.


  • http://www.habitpermonth.com Lauri

    Great post! I think friendship builds up when you give time to the relationship. The important question is: Who to give your time to?

    It’s a great thing to have strict and clearly defined criteria for a friend, it makes it easier to decide who to give your time and build a friendship with.

    I also like the concept of dividing your contacts to fans and friends.

  • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

    @Stacy – IMHO I think it’s better to have a nice solid core of friends then be surrounded by dozens of people that you have weak connections with.

    @Adrian – I’m not sure either 🙂

  • http://www.sowilldo.com Zoltán Cserei

    “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”
    ~Walter Winchell.

    Sometimes that happens quite backwards. I’ve often seen situations, when someone was almost generally hated while she was happy, then, during a sad, hard period for her, friends like popped out of nowhere. People started to hand around her, because they could feed their own happiness by the power of comparison: “I’m in a better situation, ergo, I have a reason to be happy”.