Friends are annoying. They are like house plants in that they require attention, water and moderate exposure to sunlight. Put too many in the same room and you’ll suffocate due to lack of oxygen. They can both accidentally kill your cat, and unless you’re an expert gardener or florist, combining them haphazardly ends in visually and emotionally messy results.
There are benefits to friendship and house plants, of course. I am not completely insane. To maintain metaphorical consistency, let us consider that the right friends (and likewise the right amount of plants) help us breathe. They can brighten our moods, and — allow me to elbow your rib as you read this — they keep us rooted. Or grounded, if you will.
But where plants fail at being useful, friends never do. They can give you a ride, loan you half their sandwich, craft a text message for you that is the perfect blend of flirty and cavalier without requiring a byline or editor’s credit, and they can, most importantly, answer your questions better than Google does.
Before you argue, it is true that Google has become alarmingly, suspiciously adept at anticipating what you’re about to ask.
A conspiracy theorist would say that’s because the G in google stands for Government and They have our brains tapped.
A normal person would chalk it up to science. I prefer to avoid scientists and Google altogether and instead ask life’s greatest queries to my friends.
Google can provide you with addresses and directions but it cannot remind you what the name of that place is by that other place with the weird dude who’s always on the corner where you once got your nails done, and it was raining.
Google can populate a series of songs that match your broad and lazy search for “do do do do do do do do” (“Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega, 1987) but it cannot possibly answer your call at 2 AM when you’re in a full fledged panic because you can’t remember that clapping song you guys used to listen to on repeat in her brother’s car that one summer.
Google can (and will) tell you that you’re pregnant and dying, but only a friend can (and will) examine your highly suspicious rash, then confirm that you’re being a baby (too soon?) and that you’re totally fine.
Google will not accompany you to the emergency room when you counter, “You’re not a doctor.”
Your friend can remind you of your favorite song and recall the middle name of the guy you like. She can spit out the words that haven’t yet reached the tip of your tongue, read your mind, tell you what to eat for dinner and pull up embarrassing pictures of you without your needing to ask.
Google can give you plenty of answers, yes, but at the end of the day, only your friends can water your plants.