The Little Things
By Jason Marshall
Followers. Shares. Likes. Views. Friends.
Sadly, people gauge their self-worth and value on these social media buzz words.
How many Twitter followers do you have? Instagram shares? How about views on YouTube? Likes on TikTok? Tell me how many Facebook friends you have.
Why should it matter? The truth is, it doesn’t.
Of those top five words, the only one with any importance in your life is friends, but not in the social media sense.
Lengthy Facebook friend lists are an illusion.
True friend lists are quite real. And succinct.
We all have a big circle of acquaintances. A smaller circle of relationships. True friends are in a much tighter circle.
I always use one question to gauge who I consider a true friend: If I were in real trouble, who would I call?
You can call anyone when you need help. But who would be there for you without hesitation?
There is your answer. Your true friends will be there for you.
And the older you get, the more valuable this list becomes.
Your list may change with time. The reality is that people drift apart for various reasons and others come into your life unexpectedly. But we all have a list.
Our first friends were family. Cousins, to be exact. We also had school friends. Sports friends. Then college friends. Friends we met through work. And those we met because of our kids.
But the truest friends you’ve ever had in your life were your childhood chums. You were inseparable. You did everything together. Good and bad. And that bad stuff. That’s where the bonds were formed.
They’re the friends who made you comfortable. You could be yourself without fear of being judged.
You sat together on the school bus. Hung out at recess. Did—or didn’t—do your homework together. Sometimes while sitting together on the school bus.
You watched TV together. In fact you’d spend so much time at each other’s houses, you weren’t afraid to open the fridge for a drink or a snack. No invitation required. You decided where you’d eat dinner on any given night by comparing which mom was making the tastier meal. Or dessert.
You didn’t worry about each other’s germs or getting cooties. You passed around Tupperware cups full of grape Freshie and you all drank from the same garden hose after a hard game of Tag or Hide-And-Seek in the backyard. And you’d share a big bag of candy, licking your fingers after each handful and digging back in for more.
Now that’s true friendship.
You talked about which classmates were the cutest. And when you decided which one you like-liked, your best friends would help you make a mixed tape for your true love.
Your friends were your first phone call after you opened your birthday or Christmas gifts. And you knew each one of their phone numbers by heart. If they didn’t answer, you rode your bike back and forth in front of their house until someone came outside.
On rainy days you played Crazy Eights. Old Maid. War. Go Fish. You made houses of cards. You’d try your hardest to sink their battleships and you’d rub it in when you landed on Free Parking and took that big pile of cash.
When you got restless, you made prank phone calls together. Read your sisters’ diaries. You and your friends used the F-word all the time for no real reason. And eventually you’d sneak your first sip of beer together.
You knew one another’s deepest darkest secrets. And you liked it that way.
You wanted to spend every minute together. In person. Not on a screen.
Speaking of screens, no cell phones back then meant there is no surplus of photos of you and your posse of friends. Those you do have are most likely black and white. But you treasure the colourful memories they conjure up.
Hopefully your list of Facebook friends includes some of your true childhood friends. Because that’s the most valuable part of Facebook: the ability to connect. And reconnect.
When you see someone or something that triggers a flood of wonderful childhood memories, that’s when you realize what’s truly important. Not how many likes a photo gets. Or being retweeted.
It’s the people in your life who matter. The moments you cherish. The times that shaped who you are today.
What’s truly important are the little things. Often, they turn out to be the greatest things in life.
Jason Marshall has been a writer and journalist for more than 30 years, and is an on-air host and station manager at Valley Heritage Radio just outside of Renfrew, Ontario. And he’s truly a big kid at heart. You can email him anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.