A couple days ago, the Cut wrote about a new survey of Brits conducted by a group called Genius Gluten Free (we're as confused as you are) that purported to show that people have the most friends at age 29 — at this age, the survey reported, the average person has 80 friends. My initial response, which may indicate unfortunate things about myself, was that nobody has 80 actual, real-life friends.
The relative largeness of this number sparked an internal debate in New York Magazine chat rooms and meetings: How do you even define friend these days, given that our online lives are littered with numerous "friends" who probably don't make the real-life cut?
Opinions differed. One line of thought was that a friend is someone you'd invite to your birthday party if they live in the same place as you. I take a more conservative view: A friend is someone you can send a random text message to without it seeming weird, or without the recipient feeling annoyed that they're now obligated to respond. Stella Bugbee suggests, "Can you help me workshop an Instagram photo/caption? If so, we are friends."
We're curious what you think, so we're going to have a little contest. Define friend for us in a single sentence, either in the comments section below or by emailing us at ScienceOfUs@nymag.com, and we'll pick a few of our favorites, feature them in a follow-up post, and reward the authors with
priceless ancient artifacts New York Magazine mugs or subscriptions. We'll name at least one winner in two separate categories:
1. Ha! That was funny.
2. Huh, that's actually a really useful, thoughtful definition of friend.