Many things come to mind when we hear the word "friends."

Some of the first things that pop into a person's mind when they think about their friends include "loyal," "fun," and "close." Some of us might even still remember how they first met their friends, either through some chance meeting or common interests. How exactly do you "make" friends with other people, though?

Such a process is ambiguous and hard to describe, but most people would agree that continuous communication and sharing of information, both personal and impersonal, are needed in order for people to create friendships with one another. As many people know, this is sometimes easier said than done. We've all met people who do not have enough social skills to quickly create friendships, resulting in a variety of humorous yet awkward situations. Still, the idea of wanting to make friends with many others is something that most people agree with.

Some even hope to be friends with everyone – such is a noble, if impossible, goal. Why is it impossible, though? Think about how you made friends with others. As I said before, a major factor in creating friendships with others is by the sharing of information. Such information could be about yourself, such as your birthday, your favorite genres of music, or information about your family. You develop trust with others, and sometimes discover common interests. However, you may discover that you have topics you have contrasting views on – such circumstances will diminish, but not extinguish, your chances of being friends with him or her. In the process of becoming friends with another person, though, you will no doubt be exposed to the other person's group of friends sooner or later. You might end up making friends with them, and if you do, you end up developing an unspoken commitment to satisfy their definition as a friend. As you try to fulfill those definitions, you will end up having a clash between following your "older" friends and these new friends. You might end up sharing information about your older friends to the newer ones which were not intended to be shared at first, which can result in you losing some of them.

What I'm trying to say is this — you can't be "friends" with everyone at once. The way we classify friends is by the context of how much information each person is given. For example, I would share much more information with a close friend of mine than an acquaintance, and no doubt a person I barely know would share more information with his or her friend than me. What if I just shared more information with everyone at once then? At that point, your goal wouldn't be making more friends, but instead just sharing more information in order to look like you have more friends. By selectively picking information to share with others, you determine who satisfies the criteria to be a friend, and maybe even more.The problem is, at what point are you not choosing potential friends and instead being unfair and mean? We all have our personal preferences for friends, but there is a limit. If you find yourself not making friends with others because they don't have some superficial quality, such as a nice hair or face, then you've hit a point of absurdness. I don't have a completely correct template in regards to judging friends, but I will say this: quality over quantity. Even if you have lots of friends, it would be much more endearing and satisfying to have strong friendships with a smaller circle of people than numerous, confusing, and weak ties with so-called "friends."

— Jan Urbano is a junior in biological sciences. He can be reached at jurbano@utk.edu.