It is rare that I base a blog on a single question. But the outpouring of response to my blog “Four Requirements for Finding Friends in a World of Fans” got me thinking more deeply about the subject.

Bill Gothard, isolated four “Levels of Friendship”:

1. acquaintance

2. casual friend

3. close friend and

4. intimate friend

Here is how he loosely defined each level.

An acquaintance is a person with whom you have only occasional contact, sometimes it is only a single contact, such as someone you meet while traveling or who comes to your house to fix the plumbing or washing machine.

A casual friendship is based on common interests or activities. A casual friend may be a person at work or someone you know at a club, at church, or on a sports team.

A close friendship is based on mutual life goals and long-term interests. You and your friend are beginning to see potential achievement in each other’s life. In a close friendship you will discuss specific goals and will assume a personal responsibility for the development of such goals. These friends can make suggestions about important aspects of your life.

An intimate friendship is by its nature quite intense. An intimate friendship is based on open honesty, discretion, and a commitment to the development of each other’s character and spiritual potential.
You will help your friend through trials and sorrows. You will assume personal responsibility for his/her reputation. You are sensitive to traits and attitudes which need improvement in both of you. Intimate friends are committed to faithfulness, loyalty, and availability.

Here is my question: Do our “cyber-friends,” the social network “friends” we have never met, fit in any of these categories? Are they part of another category all together? Are they really friends?

Okay so that is a couple of questions. I love the interaction with my “friends” on the internet but I am fascinated with the influence social networking may have on our definition of friendship.