Friday, December 5, 2008

Is it a popularity contest?

I read this a few days ago Better cyber friend than real one? and it made me think about friendship. I mean, how can anyone have thousands of REAL friends? I’m not saying that you can’t have cyber friendships. It’s just that in my view, a real friend is someone who is i) there when you need a shoulder to cry on (be it ‘virtual’ or real), ii) someone whose company you enjoy (be it ‘virtual’ or real), iii) someone you can confide in, and iv) someone who you make time for. So how can anyone have thousands of those?

Mum won’t join Facebook because she says that not only would she end up as the sad bastard with only two friends but that she simply doesn’t want to be a part of it. To be honest I think she’s also a bit nervous about the possible consequences - she doesn’t want to wake up one morning to find 400 people camped on her lawn just because she happened to mention on Facebook that she was having Stephanie round for dinner that evening.

Nevertheless, mum still gets people inviting her to be their ‘friend’ on Facebook, or Myspace (or that other one I can’t remember the name of) and it always leaves her feeling bemused because they are invariably invites from people she doesn’t really know. Last week she got an invite from a guy who she hasn’t seen since she was nine years old “…I mean, why on earth does he want me as his friend when the last time we saw each other was at Junior school and I called him ‘poo breath’? I guess he has 199 friends and he’d like to get to 200...” Mum says most of them are ‘shameless Facebook hussies’ who aren’t at all interested in being her friend, they simply want to make up the numbers. They want to appear popular.

Now I know that LOADS of you humans have adopted the attitude that it doesn’t matter what people think of you. Apparently it’s a very admirable attitude to have and folk are often ridiculed for caring about what others think of them: “Take me or leave me”, I’ve heard that one before and “I don’t care what others think – I’m not courting popularity,” and “Does it matter what people think of you?” and, “It’s not a popularity contest is it?”. Isn’t it? I wonder.

You humans are lucky if you can survive in this world by doing your own thing, even if it makes you unpopular. Us dogs can’t. In the doggy world being liked, being popular, being appealing is a matter of survival. And I ask you, what’s wrong with wanting to be liked? Why is it considered a weakness? It started eons ago - imagine prehistoric men sitting round their campfire gnawing on their hunks of mammoth flesh and thinking “Now which little doggies should we throw the bones to? The cute ones wagging their tails enthusiastically and looking at us as if we were Gods? Or the morose ones looking at us as if we were mammoth poo?” Yep, you got it! The waggy-tailed cute dogs would have always ended up with the bones.

If us dogs didn’t remain appealing, we simply wouldn’t survive. Who would want to keep us?

A small digression here: that’s why I can’t understand why folk are attracted to cats. Cats are a complete conundrum in my view. I mean, they peruse everyone and everything with a look that is literally oozing with disdain but people still keep them and grow attached to them. It’s bizarre.

Back to main post: I wonder if lots of folk who declare that they are their own person who couldn’t give a damn what others think are simply full of bravado, when deep down they’re thinking “…please, please, please like me. I SO want to be liked…please, please, please…” I’m wondering because despite the pervasive attitude that it really doesn’t matter what folk think, the growing popularity of sites such as Facebook, the growing horde of folk who are seeking fame in one way shape or form through the growing number of reality TV shows and the growing status of the ‘Celebrity’ seem to scream otherwise.

I do care what others think of me and don’t mind admitting it. I want to be liked, because I don’t think I’d be a happy dog if I wasn’t - I don’t have rhino hind and I’m quite a sensitive soul. Saying that, I don’t need thousands of friends either, apart from the fact that I can only count to ten I reckon it’d be bloody tiring.


Charmaine said...

Hi Henry,

You and I have the same color hair.

Do you by chance give advice? See, I've been dating dogs for about 47 years and I don't seem to be getting anywhere? Tips?

Anonymous said...


I'm a strong advocate of the quality of my friends instead of the quantity of friends I have. Now, that's not to say that I don't want to be liked . . . but, I don't have to have a ton of friends, either. To me, being involved in what seems like a popularity contest means I, in some way, cater to the wants and desires of those who may not necessarily have my best interests at heart. So, why would I want them as my friends? Sometimes my small circle of friends can feel a little too small . . . but I also know they accept me as I am and will be there for me when I need a shoulder. And we have tons of fun together. Just my two cents.

Henry the Dog said...

Charmaine - you're obviously dating the wrong type of dog. We're not all bad, believe me. Actually, I've just visited your blog and have got to say that mum and me REALLY enjoyed it and when we've got more time over the weekend we're going to read it all so if there's anything TOO derogatory about us dogs on it, now's the time to edit or risk upsetting me;) PS: We laughed and laughed at your Boogie Heads.

Kathryn - you're so right. Good comment, and I'm with you 100%. I was actually thinking that perhaps I should re-title my post Quality over Quantity?

Diane said...


I'm with you and your mum. I won't do the whole Facebook thing either. Quite frankly, I don't see the point or the attraction. And while I don't much care what people I don't much like think about me, it's important to me that people I DO like or admire (or think I might somewhere down the road) like me. And it's nice when people, even those I don't know well, think nice things about me. With this whole blogging business, it's lovely when people like what you write and want to keep visiting your blog, isn't it? I do so like that!

Diane said...

I just re-read what I wrote... if you can decode it, I'll send you a doggie biscuit!

French Fancy said...

These networking sites don't do it for me at all. I guess if I was a teenager Id wouldn't want to be the only one of my friends without my own page though - now that I can understand. But so many 'adults' seem to have a page - I read Iain Lee's ages ago and it was full of wannabees friends of his telling him he was great - now what is the point of that?

I'd rather have two or three good real-life friends that I can trust inside out and hope that I know till the day I die, lots of friends from the world of Blogland and that'll do it for me. I think you can tell a lot about someone from a blog - and even if someone was assuming a false persona they couldn't keep it up for ever - not n a blog. So you can keep your Bebo where the sun doesn't shine as far as I'm concerned.

Poppy the bichon said...

mum got a bit carried away then and didn't read back properly what she put. She had boozy lunch and never even brought us a doggy bag home.

misty the bichon said...

When's Santa Paws bringing me my new toy, Henry?

Henry the Dog said...

Diane - I really get you, honest. Now where's that biscuit?

FF - you are SO lovely by the way. I agree with you about the 'Ado' thing. Uncle Hugh's grandpups have their own Facebook page and it's the norm with kids of a certain age. Mum has only a couple of really good, trusted friends but she's had them AGES.

Poppy - my mum is swigging back some sparkly fizzy stuff at the mo and getting all giddy 'cause she's put the Christmas decorations up and it looks like Santa's grotto.

Misty - got to wait until Christmas Eve - be patient:)

Virginia S. Wood, PsyD said...

Henry, my parrot has a Facebook page, and so do a lot of other parrots. It's an easy way for a single bird to stay in touch with others of like kind.

But you are right--it does get a bit like the competition among bloggers for the most hits, Followers, etc.

It was originally my page: I thought I could do some professional networking with it but it was useless for that. When after several weeks I found I wasn't connecting with many humans on it, I turned it over to her. She has since met over a dozen other Greys worldwide, and several not far from our home. That's been fun.

SSQuo said...

There is a method to Facebook madness, and you have to make your own personal boundaries. I have to be comfortable saying 'no' to friend requests, when people are truly not my friends. For e.g. I choose to hide my wall, and so if someone needs to write to me, they have to send me a personal message. Im worth that much. Plus, my life is my life, not the there to be seen by the entire world.

I think I am one of the few people on FB whose friend list fluctuates, coz if I don't have a valuable connection with people on my list within a certain amount of time, I realize I am but a number to them. So, they must go.

I just let one 'acquanitcance' know yday that I am removing her from my list, yes, I do it in full disclosure so they know why. and BAM, I got a response.

Unfortunately, it came a bit too late, and I hit the 'Remove from friend list' button. The rest I cherish, have met many old friends that I would have had a hard time meeting otherwise. To each his own.

Sorry for the long comment.

Lee said...

I ended up with Facebook because the Psychology Society used it to publicise meetings. Then a few family said be 'friends' and then a few travel companions did likewise. I only go there on a Saturday, comment on friend's status and then forget about it for a week. Seems enough. I prefer blogging - more substance and scope for creativity.

Most people want people, maybe not too close sometimes, but they want reaction. If bloggers didn't want reaction they would turn the comments off. I only know of one blog that does this; probably because such people don't visit other blogs either and so remain a lone howling voice in the wilderness.

Not sure about the campfire analogy; the cute dogs tended to get eaten by the big, savage, hunting (=working) dogs. Probably due to a lack of scraps in their regular diet.

Henry the Dog said...

Virginia - hi - I was really interested to learn that your parrot has a Facebook site - now that is unique in my view. A dog with a blog and a parrot on Facebook. Brilliant. I do think Facebook has it's place and it's uses and it depends how it is utilised - as per SSQuo.

SSQuo - yes I can see how it can be very useful. My mum has a pal over here in France who uses it to stay in touch with her family and friends in Iran. I think if you're sensible and 'manage' it well it can be an asset.

Lee - as usual wise words. Some very famous folk with blogs switch off the comments otherwise they'd be inundated I guess. I never used to get comments but I still posted, because I find it a good way to let off steam and as I've mentioned before I'm a compulsive scribbler. HOWEVER, now that I am getting comments I find I want to say even more and my posts are longer - so you're absolutely right. As for the cute dogs - of course you've made a valid point but I still believe that cute guys like me are much more likely to survive around you humans;)

Blu said...

I have never been on facebook and I just DONT GET IT. So I dont think that I will bother. PS. I think we all want to be liked.

lady jicky said...

I really think Everyone wants to be liked and that is OK. The more you worry about it the more nuts you become! Boyfriend , I cannot be bothered with the likes of Facebook etc. I prefer to Kissy face to face not on a book!
Hugs, Rosie !

meryl's musings said...

My landlord was laughing again when she was reading your post, Henry. There used to be one of those cats in our house that, everytime I got even remotely closely to Gypsy, would bat my nose with her paws. What?!? What did I do, other than want to sniff her. Is that so bad? But, alas, Gypsy is no longer with us, so I can only sniff my landlord and the tall guy she calls Hunks.

Henry the Dog said...

Blu - no, it's not for me either and yes I agree we all want to be liked, even the ones who pretend that they don't, do. Gosh the words are sticking in my head today. I can't get them down very well. Maybe I had too many 'fingers of fun' lst night.

Rosie, I agree, sometimes I can be too sensitive and worry myself stupid that I may have done or said the wrong thing and in doing so unwittingly upset someone. I prefer face to face too. xxxx

KC - I've not met one cat that likes me, or anyone else for that matter. I just don't get it. They get away with blooming murder don't you think?

Elizabeth said...

Yes, one can spend quite a few happy hours in the blogosphere.
As a dog, you must realise real people who smell are much more appealing.
As per your addictions, I would say youhave the best of all normal dog attitudes and attributes........

Princess Tikka Masala said...

I am being mostly puzzled. Why is it being that a creature who is being a dog is being considered the best friend of the creature who is man and yet it is being said in the songbooks that the creature who is woman would muchly prefer her frinds to be diamonds? Please be explaining this to me.

Henry the Dog said...

Elizabeth - of course I'm with you on that one - your smell is what makes you unique - just like your fingerprints. No one person smells the same. I can smell my mum before I see her. Not sure she'd be pleased if she knew I'd told you that - she showers regularly, honest:)

Princess Tikka - Not all girls prefer diamonds - however, perhaps a dog with a diamond encrusted collar would be exceedingly sought after by the female of the species. Paris Hilton springs to mind. Thanks for popping over:)