Many people boast about the large number of friends they have, which makes them both proud and popular. This idea contrasts greatly with those who have only a few friends but whose relationship is deep and meaningful. There would probably be two opposing approaches to the pursuit of friendships: one related to the collector’s mentality and the other associated with the builder’s spirit.
When you are young, you need to flatter your ego by having many friends. These encounters, although pleasant, are often superficial and it is not uncommon for them to end with time as the friends know more about themselves. Quantity does not coexist well with depth, and this principle is true in many circumstances. When we try to please as many people as possible, we become a little watered down which prevents us from being truly different from the crowd.
This principle applies equally to a product. It is crowd-pleasing because it has no real rough edges that could upset any critical mind. Having a plethora of friends is often a sign of being like that commercial music you hear on every radio: you are bland and common.
However, one should not believe that not having any friends is a sign of being someone special or exceptional, it is rather the mark of our indisposition to life in society.
The older we get, the more the need for depth is felt. As we get older, we know better who we are and we know better who we are not. This is why it is more difficult to befriend anyone: our need for depth prevents us from being everywhere at once.
To understand someone, you have to invest time, energy and attention. Without these three ingredients, it is impossible to build a deep, let alone lasting, relationship with anyone. This explains why it is not possible to cultivate quantity and depth: these three resources are in limited supply.
In conclusion, there is an age for everything. When we are very young, we are actually looking for depth and almost exclusivity with our friends. In adolescence, we become very influential, which pushes us to seek popularity and therefore the quantity of friends. Finally, as we get older, we realize that depth is an inseparable element of authenticity which is itself an essential ingredient of happiness. Thus, without deep friendship, there is no lasting and true happiness.