Friends. How many of us have too many of them to actually know how many we have? The Washington Post examines this topic in a vaguely disturbing piece. I have 510 friends on Facebook, 209 on MySpace, 17 friends and 107 "followers" on this blog and about 13 of those Luddite-type people with landlines and no social networking affiliation whatsoever. I'd estimate 42% of those are duplicates and people I don't actually "know," and of the remaining 300-400 about two-thirds live in New York and as such have probably gotten drunk with me more than six times. But the other night I found myself stricken with loneliness. I called an ex. "I am sooooooo sorry," I said. "Can I just... do whatever you're doing tonight? I'm sorry, I'll be totally charming and I'll make sure that whatever you're doing my body language conveys with ABSOLUTE CLARITY that you are available. And I don't have any agenda that involves talking about myself, I just want to talk about you." His reply was sad.

"It's ridiculous that you should be afraid to call your friends when you're lonely." And that's when I realized I had, somewhere along the line, developed a fear of calling anyone I didn't know from high school or Philadelphia with whom I hadn't corresponded via IM in the preceding 5-10 days. It is actually a lot easier to simply commence corresponding via IM with someone I don't really know — but who is probably mutual Facebook friends with someone we both used to hang out with until 10 days ago or whatever — and go for drinks with that person, and then, either have sex, or use the meeting as an excuse to get back in touch with our mutual Facebook friend who's suddenly grown so disturbingly distant, maybe just because s/he has better things to do now.

Friends Indeed? [Washington Post]