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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.

Teresa Kaye Newman thinks that Boomer parents were right about a few things.

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Newman believes she has credibility on the issue because she has 13 years of experience dealing with “hundreds and hundreds” of other people’s kids and has seen what happens when her so-called “Boomer” parenting principles aren’t implemented.

Of course, Newman is using some broad stereotypes in calling for a return to Boomer parenting ideas when many Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z parents share the same values. But, as someone who deals with children every day, she has the right to point out that today’s kids are entitled and spend too much time staring at screens.

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12 real stories that show why ruthless immigration laws are the wrong move.

Immigration policies that rip families apart are a travesty.


If there's ever been a particularly bad time to be an undocumented immigrant, it's right now.

President Donald Trump, who launched himself into the 2016 presidential race with his support for a multibillion-dollar border wall, has been cracking down on immigration as promised. In addition to tightening border security, he's pledged to remove 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants "immediately." And he appears to be keeping his word.

Deportation is nothing new, but Trump's plans are unprecedented. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

It's a scary climate we're facing, but unfortunately, it's not just Trump and it's not just America. All over the world, people are more concerned with their countries' borders than seemingly ever before.Nations all over Europe, for example, are tightening up immigration rules and/or ramping up deportations themselves.

Amidst all the noise and rhetoric — every "radical Islamic terrorist" attack that gets waved about by politicians with something that eerily resembles pride, every horrific crime committed by white Americans that's met with deafening silence, every press conference faux pas — there are real people and real families being ripped apart in the name of patriotism.

Their stories are terrifying and heart-wrenching, but they're massively important.

1. A DREAMer gave a powerful speech about deportation. Moments later, she was arrested.

Daniela Vargas, who has lived in the U.S. since she was 7 years old, spoke at a news conference in Jackson, Mississippi, about the importance of the DREAM Act, which aims to help immigrant children who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years and graduated high school receive permanent legal status.

After the event, Vargas and a friend were pulled over and arrested by immigration agents.

2. A Sri Lankan student studying in North Wales was saved from deportation only by a last ditch effort hours before her flight.

Shiromini Satkunarajah, an electrical engineering student at Bangor University, was nearly sent back to Sri Lanka earlier this year. Despite having lived in the U.K. since she was 12 and being only three months shy of graduation, Satkunarajah was only allowed to stay after receiving an outpouring of community support.

3. A woman living in Great Britain was sent back to Singapore without being allowed to say goodbye to her husband and two children.

Irene Clennell had lived in the U.K. since 1988 but was abruptly sent back to Singapore after having her indefinite leave to remain revoked. Clennell is married and has two children with her husband but was not afforded the chance to see them one last time.

4. A mom living in Phoenix was sent back to Mexico. Her children would later face Trump as he addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time.

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos' children were reportedly in attendance as Trump addressed Congress. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/AFP/Getty Images.

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was sent back to Mexico in January this year for having a criminal record. Her crime? Working under the table to provide for her young children.

5. A beloved restaurant manager in a deep-red town in Illinois was arrested, and now the community is reeling.

Most of the people in West Frankfort, Illinois, voted for Trump. They never thought anything would happen to Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco, the friendly restaurant manager who seemed have done at least one kind deed for everyone in the community. Now, he's been detained by ICE and is currently waiting to find out if he'll be sent back to Mexico.

6. A Kuwaiti man and father of two living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the other hand, was miraculously spared from deportation because it would cause his family too much hardship.

Yousef Ajin has lived in the United States for 18 years with his wife, with whom he has four children. He reportedly met with immigration officers frequently, but on Jan. 30, 2017, he was suddenly detained.

In February, a judge granted a deportation waiver in order to spare Ajin's family from hardship. Many other immigrants aren't so lucky.

7. One man was caught trying to cross the border and returned to Tijuana. He appears to have jumped to his death shortly after.

The man, Guadalupe Olivas Valencia, had reportedly worked in the U.S. before to provide for his family back home before being deported multiple times. Caught trying to enter the country once again, he seemingly decided jumping from a bridge was his only option.

8. A single mother in California was sent back to Mexico, leaving her two young children in peril.

Photo by Jose Cabezas/AFP/Getty Images.

On Feb. 7, María Robles-Rodríguez was nabbed by U.S. Border Patrol and sent back to Mexico, leaving her twin 18-year-old daughters to fend for themselves.

9. Gay men being deported from Britain to Afghanistan are being told to pretend they're straight.

The British government's advice to gay men being sent home to Afghanistan, where they can be freely persecuted for their sexual orientation? Just don't act gay and everything will be fine!

Seriously.

10. Jose Escobar was detained after a routine meeting with immigration officers. He's a husband and father of three.

Escobar, who has lived in the United States for 16 years, had a deportation scare a few years back but was told he'd be safe if he checked in with immigration agents every year. Only this year, an agent reportedly told his wife, "We're just doing what President Trump wants us to do with the new rules."

Escobar will likely soon be deported.

11. A Mexican man living in Idaho was deported. His wife and the mother of his children could be next.

Tomas Copado ran his own auto body shop in Idaho Falls until he was sent back to Mexico earlier this year. His wife, for the sake of their children, recently had her own deportation deferred.

For now.

12. Some undocumented immigrants may be deported to Mexico even if they're not from there.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

According to several reports, the Department of Homeland Security plans to send anyone who crosses illegally over the southern border of the U.S. back to Mexico, even though they may be citizens of another country.

Needless to say, this is horrendous and possibly in violation of international law.

Statue of LibertyPhoto by Guzmán Barquín on Unsplash

Every modern nation needs smart, empathetic paths to citizenship. Any immigration policy that tramples on human rights and rips families apart is a travesty.

It's time to bust the narrative that foreigners primarily come to our country — or any country — to do harm. They come mostly to find opportunity, to escape persecution, or to be with family.

If we can't come to see them as human beings rather than inanimate outsiders, finding the money to pay for a giant wall will be the very least of our problems.


This article originally appeared on 03.02.17

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