+
upworthy
Pop Culture

The '7 friends theory' is a problematic concept packaged in a celebration of friendship

The "7 friends theory" may make for some cute, clickable social media virality, but it's more harmful than helpful when it comes to friendship.

7 friends sitting arm in arm looking out over the water
Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

The "7 friends theory" viral trend on TikTok isn't as warm and fuzzy as it seems.

Friendship is wonderful. In my four decades, I've had more than my fair share of close, supportive, ride-or-die friends who have helped shape me and carry me through it all. Friendship has played a huge role in my life, which is why the viral "7 friends theory" social media trend caught my eye.

It's also why I'm calling b.s. on the whole idea.

The "7 friends theory" posits that there are seven friends you need in your life:

1. The friend you’ve had since you were little
2. The friend who makes you laugh in all situations
3. The friend you might not talk to for a long time, but nothing changes
4. The friend you can tell anything without judgment
5. The friend who feels like a sister (or brother)
6. The friend you can’t imagine not being your life
7. The friend you share all of your dating/relationship problems with.


The wording on this seven-item checklist changes slightly with different videos, but the gist is always the same. Here are a few examples that got millions of views on TikTok:

@slothyrach

luv this💛🥰😁 #CapCut

@lysscausey

7 bridesmaids for a reason 🥹🤍#CapCut #bride #married #wedding #bridesmaids #7friendtheory #2023bride #bestfriend

Seems nice, doesn't it? With all the warm vibes and the feel-good music and the sweet friendship photos?

Sorry to burst anyone's bubble here, but this trend isn't as cute and harmless as it seems. Friendship? Yay. Seven specific kinds of friends? Boo.

First of all, this is based on nothing. There's no research on friendship behind this "theory." It's just something someone made up. That alone doesn't make it problematic, but let's at least start by calling it what it is.

Secondly, if we're going to ascribe a specific number to something, there should be a legitimate reason for doing so. Otherwise, it's meaningless at best and creates anxiety at worst. What if you don't have these exact seven kinds of friends? Are you missing something in life? Will you never have the soundtrack-backed warm glow of these bestie moments if you only have, say, four good friends? What if you have friends who don't really fit any of these categories? Are those friendships less than?

Numbering something should be purposeful, and the number seven is totally arbitrary here. Great for getting people to click on a video, but not so great for actually analyzing friendships.

Speaking of analyzing, what exactly is the value in categorizing friendship in this way? Different friends fulfill different roles and meet different needs in our lives, so I'm not saying all friendships are the same, but that's not the same as saying you need friends who fit specific categories.

And if we are going to create specific categories, there's a whole lot that are missing here. Where's the friend who organizes the meal train when you're sick or grieving? The friend who checks in when you've gone quiet for a while? The friend who always tells you the truth even when you don't want to hear it? The friend you want with you in the delivery room? The friend you can happily sit in total silence with?

There are just so many different ways that friendship can be experienced and expressed, why specify these seven? Again, it's totally arbitrary, especially when most friends fit multiple categories anyway.

We already have enough idealistic standards being pushed on us by social media, and this feels like just one more. It's especially problematic for young people, and they're the ones who are making and responding to these videos. How many teens are now looking at their own friendships and feeling bad that they don't have seven close friends or that one or more of those categories remain unfulfilled for them?

Tip for the young folks: Don't let this kind of thing seep into your psyche. Not even a little bit.

One thing you learn with time and experience is that most friendships shift, morph and change, and that's OK. Some friendships are strong for a few seasons and then life moves you in different directions. The love doesn't leave, but the everyday closeness does. That's OK. Some friendships go through peaks and valleys and some friendships disappear and reemerge over and over. That's OK, too.

Some people find they only have and only need a tiny handful of friends. Some people collect friendships like baseball cards. It's all OK. Friendship doesn't have to look a specific way or fulfill some arbitrary criteria in order to have value to us.

The "7 friends theory" may make for some cute, clickable social media virality, but it's more harmful than helpful when it comes to friendship. Be happy with the friends you have in the moment, don't count or overanalyze them and definitely don't let TikTok trends influence how you feel about yourself or the people you love.

Community

Decluttering top of mind for 2024? This Facebook group can help

This online community offers easy-to-implement advice for decluttering, organizing, and cleaning up your home and your life with support from 125,000 members.

With the new year comes plenty of resolutions we all vow to keep up with the best of intentions. But by February 1, our resolve has often waned as life gets in the way and things go back to how they were. What we all need a little more of is motivation.

When we participate in something collectively, it’s easier to meet goals and maintain the enthusiasm to get things done. While the support of a friend or two is great, imagine having the power of an entire online community cheering you on and offering advice along the way.

This is where the Daily Decluttering Challenge Facebook group comes in. This online community offers easy-to-implement advice for decluttering, organizing, and cleaning up your home and your life with support from 125,000 members.

“By building a network of people who can support and encourage you along the way, you can make progress towards your goals faster and more effectively. Remember, no one achieves success alone, and having a strong support system can make the difference in a goal set versus a goal achieved,” says Kristin Burke, a goal achievement coach.

In addition to tips for tidying up around the house, members share advice on how to tackle one thing at a time, where to donate excess items, and what they do to exercise more willpower to avoid buying new things.

For anyone hoping to declutter their lives in the new year, this Facebook group has the perfect challenge to get you started.

Keep ReadingShow less

The generational caption debate is a big deal.

If you’re a Gen Xer or older, one surprising habit the younger generations developed is their love of subtitles or closed-captioning while watching TV. To older generations, closed-captioning was only for grandparents, the hearing impaired, or when watching the news in a restaurant or gym.

But these days, studies show that Millenials and Gen Z are big fans of captions and regularly turn them on when watching their favorite streaming platforms. A recent study found that more than half of Gen Z and Millenials prefer captions on when watching television.

It’s believed that their preference for subtitles stems from the ubiquity of captioning on social media sites such as TikTok or Instagram.

Keep ReadingShow less
Gage Skidmore/ Wikimedia Commons

James Marsden and Thandie Newton at Comic-Con

There’s no shortage of stories of celebrities whose family members are wholly unimpressed by their fame.

“When I see myself up on a billboard, I have this complete dissociation with it ... I’m like, 'Who’s that?'” actress Emily Blunt told InStyle. "And I can see my children doing the same […] it’s not exciting for them. What’s exciting for them is when I can pick them up from school and take them swimming.”

Meanwhile, Matt Damon told Seth Meyers that his daughter goes out of her way to watch his flops. “She is very clear about not wanting to see anything that I’m in if she thinks it might be good,” Damon told the TV host. “If I get bad reviews in something, that’s the one she wants to see.”

Keep ReadingShow less

Samantha has trouble every time she gets a new work email.

The recent trend of parents going out of their way to give their children unique names has brought up a lot of discussion on social media. Some of these names sound cute when a child is 5 years old. But will Caeleigh, Zoomer or Rhyedyr look like a serious adult on a job application in a few years?

A recent viral video on TikTok is a unique twist on the current discussion surrounding names. Samantha Hart has a name that doesn’t seem like it would draw any negative attention in professional circles. However, her parents didn’t consider email conventions when they named her back in the late ‘90s when email was new.

“My name is Samantha Hart,” the 27-year-old said. “Most companies use the email designation of first initial, last name, meaning my email would be shart.” For the uninitiated, a shart is an unintentional release when one thinks they only have gas.

Keep ReadingShow less

Lunch looks a lot different outside of the U.S.

For those of us who grew up in the United States eating lunch in a cafeteria, the idea of looking at a bunch of trays of school food may be less than compelling. But what's surprisingly interesting, however, is what children from the rest of the world are eating instead. Check out these common lunch dishes from around the globe and let us know they seem accurate.

The photos were part of a project entitled "School Lunches Around the World" by Sweetgreen In Schools, a program "that educates kids about healthy eating, fitness, and sustainability through fun, hands-on activities."

This article originally appeared on 10.30.17

Strikers, Ludlow Tent Colony, 1914.

The early 1900s were a time of great social upheaval in our country. During the years leading up to the Ludlow Massacre, miners all around the country looking to make a better life for themselves and their families set up picket lines, organized massive parades and rallies, and even took up arms. Some died.

It's always worth considering why history like this was never taught in school before. Could it be that the powers that be would rather keep this kind of thing under wraps?

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

6 songs that seem romantic but aren't, and one that seems like it isn't but is

Love songs are where we get our passion, our soul — and most of our worst ideas.

The Beach Boys (1965)

Love songs are where we get our passion, our soul — and most of our worst ideas.


Throughout human history, oceans have been crossed, mountains have been scaled, and great families have blossomed — all because of a few simple chords and a melody that inflamed a heart and propelled it on a noble, romantic mission.

Keep ReadingShow less