If there are three words that I personally think get abused (or misused) a lot, it's "love," "friend," and "know". I mean, think about it — how is that the same word you would use for your favorite flavor of ice cream is the same word you would use to describe how you feel about your significant other (love)? Or, when you think about all that you and your bestie have been through, how do the people you barely speak to — let alone see — on social media get the same title as they do (friend)?
Most of y'all probably feel me on those two words, but "know"? What's my issue with that?
I always found it interesting, and also pretty cool, that if you read the New King James Version of the Bible, when it talks about a husband having sex with his wife, "knew" is the word that's used (Genesis 4:25). He wasn't smashin' or hittin' — he was getting to know her better.
To me, it cosigns what I think about the word "know"; that, in many ways, just like when it comes to love or friend, it's a sacred word. Folks can't be out here just casually claiming to know someone. There should be a certain kind of criteria that qualifies them to say that. For starters, the five following things must apply.
What It Means To Really Know Someone
You've Had Bonafide Shared Experiences with Each Other
"Know" is a pretty layered word. Two of my favorite definitions of it are "to perceive or understand as fact or truth" and "to understand from experience or attainment." If you know someone, you've experienced some things with them. Experiences are personal accounts.
When I think of experiences, I think of good times and tough times. I think of the people who were there for me during my latest heartbreak or the ones who can call me when they are short on a bill. Even when I think about the people I've gone to the movies with or had lunch with, it served some kind of a purpose beyond the surface. So yeah, for someone to say that they know me, we've spent some personal time together. Definitely.
They've Consistently Communicated with You Within the Last 12-16 Months
How is it that supposedly it takes 21 days to break a habit, but someone who hasn't spoken to you in five years is able to say that they know you? Shoot, with all of the self-work I've done over the past year or so, I barely know me (that's a joke— kinda), so I know folks I haven't seen since college don't.
Even the guys who've known me in the biblical sense, because it's been so long ago, I don't profess to know anymore. I'm pretty sure their anatomy hasn't changed, but time changes people mentally and emotionally, so hopefully they've evolved to the point where it's more accurate to say that I knew them.
My point? A part of the reason why we call people on the phone or take trips with them, etc. is so that we can remain connected to them throughout all of the things in life that change us over time. Things that evolve us and (hopefully) mature us.
I won't lie. Being away from some folks feels like missing two years of a soap opera; you see them again and it's like you didn't miss a thing. But overall, if it's been 1-1½ years and you haven't been in touch with someone, it's pretty bold to claim that you know them. Same goes for them professing that they know you.
Because think about it — if someone knows you so well unless they are in another country without phone access, why haven't you connected with them on some level within the past year-and-a-half anyway?!
Your Relationship with Them Goes Beyond Social Media
Personally, I haven't been on social media for almost a decade, so I'll tread softly here. I will say that when I was on it, the platform was Facebook and my page was pretty much a place where folks would debate hot topics. Aside from counseling, I wasn't doing a lot of "caring and sharing" on there, though. I prefer to get on the phone to do that. To this day, my circle knows that if you have my number (which might be 10 people, literally), that means you know me; that we really are homies.
However, I do know a lot of people who will comment on celebrities or even just people they follow online like they are close friends with them based on what those folks post on their own pages. Listen, people show you what they want you to see. Don't let that make you think that you truly know them, though.
Just because you see things about someone doesn't mean you know them.
They Can Provide More Details than Gossip
Remember how one of the definitions of the word "know" is someone who has facts and truth? Chile, is there more that needs to be said on this one? Who can you say you know facts (opinions are not facts) about? Who can say they know the truth (opinions are not truth either) about you?
For the record, some gossip is truth. But if you let someone into your life to the point that they know you, they shouldn't be the kind of folks who would tell your business. Feel me?
If someone professes to know you and it's only based on hearsay, they don't. They know what they heard, and 7 times out of 10, either that has very little to do with the real you or the people in your circle talk too much and you need to set new boundaries when it comes to dealing with the people you know.
You Agree with Them
This one is my favorite. Knowing is about intimacy and it's hard to be truly intimate when it's one-sided. There used to be a time when, whenever someone would come to me with something they heard from someone who claimed to "know" me, I got frustrated. These days, I don't because no one can claim to know me without my agreeing with them that they do.
I say that because no one knows the truth and facts about me like I do. Therefore, I have a say on who thinks that they do.
Right now, I know who can confidently say that they know me. We've been through some things together, we've connected within the past couple of months (at least), they have my phone number, they've got facts on me (not all of them are stellar but I will admit they are the truth) and there is a mutual intimacy between us.
Yeah. It feels good to know and be known. It feels even better to know I've got total control over that being the case.
Sis, so do you.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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