Followers and friends are two very different things to me. I have a lot of followers on HubPages, but I don't know those people at all and they don't know me. They became my followers because they chose to do so, and when they leave, I know it's their choice too. I don't have any control over that.
Friends are people I actually know, who are an active and ongoing presence in my life, some of whom I've known for decades. People with whom I have a genuine connection will stay that way as long as both they and I wish it (since friendships are a chosen, mutual interaction), regardless of our life circumstances.