Definition: Friendship Bench

Friendship Bench

A tool for positive mental and emotional health used in various settings, where someone can sit down on a bench to talk to someone else trained in offering that help, formally or informally.

  • Wikipedia (with some of my addition to expound on the concept)


Hear much more about the concept, and the amazing work done Zimbabwe, where the Friendship Bench approach to therapy uses listening and “problem-solving therapy” by trained lay-counselor grandmothers, in this TEDTalks Daily podcast episode.

Statistics for Cultivating Friendships

The innovation discussed

What it takes, in general, to cultivate friendships, in terms of “work” and time.


What YOU can do with this innovation

  • Set “fair” expectations for friendships, current, past or future.
  • Set rough goals for developing friendships, current and future.

Continue reading

Facebook’s Friendship Page Feature Gives Everyone New Spying Capabilities!

Facebook rolled out a creepy new feature called Friendship on Oct 29, 2010. Good intent, bad results. Lay another brick in the road to Hell that is paved with good intentions! Here is a review and some counter-measure suggestions. This feature is a stalker’s dream! But it’s the same for just the casual “troll” curious about creeping on people… like maybe jealous friends, ex’es, significant others, family, etc.

What is this Friendship Page feature?

This creates a page showing all the public wall posts, comments, photos (based on tags) and events that two friends have in common. This goes for any two profiles which have common things to share, not just friends you have in common. It’s all based on what people choose to share in their privacy settings, that they have in common.

In plain language, it’s like being able to ask Facebook to show me all the interactions between person X and Y which is not protected from me, with one click of a mouse, then getting the results in an organized online report, summarized where each result has a link to the full information instead of just thumbnail, first few sentences, etc.

Whoa!!! R U kidding me???

Remember the days when you had to work to be a creep? When you had to browse through all the wall posts, photos, events and such, filtering out all the stuff by people you’re not looking for, to find what you were looking for? That’s all said and gone now. You can just click on a link now and voilà! It’s all there for you, in more details than you could have ever hoped to find in the past, like events two friends RSVP’ed together! I bet the FBI, CIA, MI5, CSIS and other secret intelligence services could only wish they had such a convenient tool to track people! Well, take CSIS out of that list. I’m not sure they’re either secret or intelligent enough to qualify.

Can you imagine your significant other doing this to someone who interacted with you a bit “friendlier” than s/he would have liked? Can you imagine Parents doing this to their kids and one of their kids’ friends? Can you imagine that person you’re dating wanting to know more about another “friend”, or an “ex” via all your Facebook interactions with him/her since you could not tell all, even if you wanted to? You couldn’t hope to have a memory like these Friendship Pages!

Worse, the stalkers, Internet trolls or 5 types of Facebook trolls are just in heaven these days! That include those behind bars who have Internet access!

Even for normal people, this Facebook Friendship page can enhance the 10 Ways Facebook can ruin your relationship ( by making the features that are the reasons all the more accessible and organized.

How do you access this Friendship Page feature?

The easiest way is to go to someone’s profile and look on their Wall for the See Friendship link next to the Comment and Like links on various Wall posts, and click on the link. I’m not sure why some Wall posts have the See Friendship link and some don’t, but it’s there for many posts. However, you can see Frienship Pages for people who are not your Facebook friend, which is the creepiest part of this feature to allow spying beyond just your friends, and vice-versa on you by people who are not your Facebook friend.

After you get to the Friendship Page, to the top right is a more convenient feature where you can type in two friends’ names, aided by Facebook’s drop down menu to guess which friend you’re talking about as you give it more letters in typing out the names. Facebook guesses with people you know, people you have common friends, who live in the area, etc. While this feature limits the people you can input to be just of your Facebook friends, finding the See Friendship link on people’s wall does not!

What can you see on these Friendship Pages?

More than what Facebook says you can! One feature more is the common friends those two friends have in common. Of course, everything that shows up, whether a wall post, comment, photo, event RSVP’ed together, etc. there is a link you can click on for more. The page you initially get is an Overview of what the page fully contains. You can then click on links to the upper left, below a photo (if the two have a photo together) or an icon of two heads, to filter out features like Wall posts, photos, comments, etc. Talk about helping creeps to be organized!!

What can you do to prevent being super-spied on with this Friendship Page feature?

Nothing that would prevent this feature from being enabled. All you can do is minimize its impact on you with these solutions.

  1. Adjust all Facebook Privacy settings to “Only Friends”. If you do this, at least only your Facebook friends will be able to creep on you.
  2. Purge your Facebook friends list. Ask yourself this… who would I want to be able to creep on me with the Friendship Page feature? Anyone you have a strong reaction against, throw them out or take Step 3. Purging your Facebook Friends list is good to do on a regular basis, anyway, to keep people who can view your profile in full to those who know and trust to some extent. The link I provided at the start of this bullet offers some assistance with questions you can ask yourself to determine who you might want to remove, and why it’s no big deal if you’re wrong to get them back. This was before this Friendship Page feature came out.
  3. Customize Facebook Privacy settings to “Only Friends” and Block certain people. If you’re not cool with removing certain people from your Facebook friends list, even though you’re not comfortable with them creeping on you with the Friendship Page, block them in your Privacy setting for whatever you don’t want them to see. That could be pictures, Wall posts or comments. I don’t believe the RSVP feature works, though. It’s hard to check, but that would be the one I would be concerned the most because that person could see future events you RSVP to in common with another friend, and not just past ones. Can you say stalking assistance? I would recommend you make a list of people you keep as Facebook friends who you would not be comfortable with creeping on you, and just add them to your “block” list for each Facebook feature like photos, Wall posts, etc. I’d just sooner take them off my Facebook friends list if I were you, if I’m going through that much trouble.

If this Facebook feature changes to limit access, or you know other ways to counter it, please let me and others know by leaving a comment.

In the mean time, Facebook safely and try not to creep, even if it may be very intriguing. If you don’t like people doing it to you, don’t do it to others.

p.s. I find it interesting Facebook rolled out this creepy feature just before Hallowe’en. Unfortunately, it won’t go away just because Hallowe’en has gone away. Who the hell at Facebook let their engineer Wayne Kao add this to the site anyway???

Other Facebook issue posts on my site:

The Prejudices and Privacy Perils of Facebook Quizzes

How to Get Rid of Your Facebook Past

25 Things For Facebook You Can’t Steal My ID With

25 Things You Gave on Facebook to Help Get Your ID Stolen

Una Guía de Netiqueta Práctica para Facebook

A Few Thoughts on Facebook Friends (and some polls)

The average Facebook user today has 130 friends. But how many of them would that average user really call a friend? And by friend, I mean just “friend”. I don’t mean anything like “true friend”, “real friend”, “good friend” or the like. Just someone you’d call a friend.

That would be hard to get a consistent answer since different people have different standards for who they call a friend. For some, only the truest of friends get called a friend. For others, anyone who might have followed them on Twitter, or vice-versa, counts as a friend. What we need is some sort of standard definition for “friend” to move this forward.


Interestingly, a good definition for “friend” can be found over 2300 years ago courtesy of the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC).

According to Aristotle, there are three types of friends, in increasing level of strength and sincerity:

  1. Contacts or those based on usefulness or utility, sometimes known as acquaintance;
  2. Drinking buddies or those based on pleasure (to use the word conservatively); and
  3. Good friends or those based on shared virtues.

If we accept all three of these categories to be friends, as Aristotle called them three types of friends, we then have a pretty broad definition of friend, but one which I would be happy to accept. Question then is if these definitions are still broad enough to cover how most people decide whether or not to add others as friends on Facebook. That would take a lot of resources to not only survey but to also verify. I doubt the folks at Facebook would even be able to do the latter conclusively, though I think they have a pretty good idea along the same lines I do.

From what I have seen and read of people and how they use Facebook, as well as who uses them and how, I would argue that a lot of people’s Facebook friends fall outside of Aristotle’s definition. So one would either need to expand Aristotle’s definition of friends to include these slightest of Facebook friends, or these slightest of Facebook friends aren’t really friends.

At first glance, Aristotle’s contacts category seems broad enough. After all, these slightest of Facebook friends are often people a user would have met only once, if that. They probably serve only as potential usefulness, never mind true utility. That is, they get added cause one never knows when they might be useful, not that they are likely to be useful in some way. Many people have Facebook friends just for the sake of upping their count and feel more people are paying attention to their Facebook activity. Others to avoid some situational awkwardness, like being Facebook friends with someone’s partner just because s/he is the jealous type who wants to keep an eye on their partner’s Facebook activities, when one doesn’t really give a damn if they exist. However, this adding of potentially useful friends can only happen to a point before users would not be able to remember people on their Facebook friends list. That is, if you asked them if so and so were on their Facebook friends list, they wouldn’t be able to tell you with certainty. Or if you asked them the name of certain people who are actually on their Facebook friends list, they wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about them at all, including how they got on that list in the first place.

I don’t know what the approximate average number of Facebook friends one would need to have before they would start forgetting everything about someone on that list, but I can tell you the situation would be true for some Facebook whales . That’s the term Facebook has for Facebook users with over 1,000 friends. Seriously, one thousand people is a lot of people to remember names and something about them. But if you don’t buy that people can remember details about a thousand mostly generic people, perhaps you’d believe the situation of not being able to remember anything about some Facebook friends would be true for those who have reached Facebook’s friends list limit of 5,000. Yes, there are those, too.

Poor Aristotle must be turning over in his grave at what some people constitute as friends today, though I’m sure he wouldn’t expand his definition of friends but rather state those slightest of Facebook friends are truly friends at all.

So after all that, maybe you’d like to weigh in with some opinions with a comments, like how you’d define a friend or why you keep Facebook friends you might not remember anything about, etc. Or maybe you’d just like to take some polls on Facebook friendship below (or see how others responded). The sample from this blog will be skewed because a lot of people come here for Facebook related activities so they tend to be avid Facebook users, but I’m just curious to see.


Other Facebook user facts:

  1. Canada has the 4th highest Facebook user rate per capita as of June 2010 with 47.9% of Canadians having a profile. This trails only Iceland (59.6%), Norway and Hong Kong, in that order.
  2. Canada has the highest Facebook user rate per capita among nations with 10 million citizens or more.
  3. There are 16 million Facebook users in Canada.
  4. Quit Facebook Day is May 31. A measly 30,000 quit worldwide of about 465 million users. Most “I Hate Facebook” type groups and pages are actually hosted on Facebook.
  5. Canada signed up 912,000 new users in May 2010 alone.

Other Facebook issue posts on my site:

The Prejudices and Privacy Perils of Facebook Quizzes

How to Get Rid of Your Facebook Past

25 Things For Facebook You Can’t Steal My ID With

25 Things You Gave on Facebook to Help Get Your ID Stolen

Una Guía de Netiqueta Práctica para Facebook



Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.6

What’s Your Song of Friendship? (Part 1 of 7 on the World in Six Songs)


Book and Theory Background

Daniel J. Levitin wrote an absolutely brilliant book called The World in Six Songs, supported by a great website with the many music samples referenced, among other great related material.

My basic paraphrasing of the concept is this. All the songs in the world could be fit into at least one of six categories providing an evolutionary benefit to humanity, often ultimately tied to our social nature.

The book and website offer far more detailed interpretations, of course, but I will expand on my paraphrasing with each post and the associated topic.

Daniel J. Levitin and The World in Six SongsIn a series of posts, I will describe each of the six categories in brief, one at a time:

  1. Friendship
  2. Joy
  3. Comfort
  4. Knowledge
  5. Religion
  6. Love

I will describe what the categories are about because they are not as limited in scope as the category names suggest. I will then supply one of my choices and ask all readers to do the same if they so wish. In the seventh post of the series, I will offer the chance to put the song choices all together so readers can read the entire set on one post. I do this because it would be a long post to describe all six categories at once, but to have all the answers in one place might be nice.


This post focuses on Songs of Friendship

July 30th add-on in italics, from Dan Levitin in a summary article
Friendship songs centre around group cohesion, whether it be for war, or the bonding of different cliques in high school. For example, in prehistoric warfare, attackers would sometimes ambush another tribe using loud instruments (especially drums) to surprise the targets while they were still sleeping. Countertactics employing the use of singing may also have been used as a signal that the group was awake.  These songs serve to protect a tribe/group or succeed in the takeover of another. In the context of social groups, they provide a sense of community and belonging, bringing people together.

These songs serve the purpose of bringing people together to promote cooperation in one form or another in order to survive, or at least make life more tolerable. Applied to various situations, cooperation could promote any of these situations:

  • Working together
  • Attacking/defending together
  • Supporting each other
  • Friendship
  • Averting conflict
  • Forging group identity (maybe not formally but like a bonding anthem for a group of “outcasts”)
  • Others

The evolutionary value is that humans interact socially, whether in friendly or destructive ways. If we can avoid the latter, like in wars, we are more likely to survive and thrive as a species. Our social bonds are essential to our well-being, and we do survive and thrive better in groups, so anything that helps us in these causes are beneficial to our evolution as a species.

Audio sample of songs from the Friendship chapter in The World in Six Songs can be found on the website. No direct link was available, but click on the Songs menu option and appropriate page number range link carrying pages 41 to 82. Please note that not all songs are meant as samples of Friendship songs. Some are just referenced material in the book text.


Author Daniel Levitin chose


My choice for Song of Friendship is

You’ve Got a Friend by Carole King (lyrics).

It fits into the Friendship subcategory of various bonding purposes, but I do believe that true friends ultimately help each other. There isn’t any other song I know and feel tells someone they’ve got a true friend better than this Carole King song. Nobody sings it better, either!


What is your choice for Song of Friendship?

Please leave your choice as a comment.

Lyrics and YouTube/audio link would greatly enhance your answer so readers can know more about your choice. They are not necessary, though, and not possible if no lyrics or version exist.

You can include songs you wrote as a choice, too!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 10.5