In an age where liberties are taken with almost everything, I resist the misguided impulse to apologize for being a literalist in interpretation and use of the word "friend".
Someone once said: "Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity." The world is full of people who claim to know other people, to in fact be their friend, yet it is debatable how much they really know one another. It is my opinion that we have cheapened the true meaning of friendship by applying it so easily and loosely, regardless of motivation.
I am thinking, in particular, about the popular social networks of today where a good majority of people requesting "friendship" are doing so primarily to build massive lists of "friends" for the purpose of subtly marketing something (special interests, products, services).
Of course, ego and the satisfaction in building up long lists of so-called friends (or followers), enters into the equation too; but that's a totally different story.
Personally, I have confined my small list of friends on Facebook to those I truly know and care about. Most have joined me on Facebook because the feeling is mutual. We share a commonality of interest that I truly respect.
Be honest now -- how often do we misuse or misapply the word "friend"? We call remote acquaintances friends (even those we have never met, in some cases) and it is only when we understand that they care very little for us, that we begin to wonder whether we have given them the title too freely. Who is kidding who, you might ask? Is there a difference between a "good friend" and someone simply labelled a "friend"?
Who is really looking out for your best interests in life? Who is sticking with you through thick and thin? Who will be there for you in times of need? That is the person you should feel proud to call your "friend" in every sense of the word. That person more often than not would be your life's companion, to my way of thinking.
Opportunity finds its way into everything in life but it is misleading when it takes the misinterpreted form of "friendship". Facebook, especially, has to come up with a more apt catch-all term for network connections.