I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of friendship.
Especially in the social media age, the concept of friendship has changed… a lot. Which it does of course, in a more “natural setting.” I vaguely recall a discussion with my parents a long time ago about their apparent lack of friends. It seemed at the time they hung out together, with family, and for the most part that was it.
When you’re young the world revolves around your peer group. So looking back now I understand in a way I never could have then. It’s not that they didn’t have friends per se, friends just weren’t the same priority in the adult world as they would in one’s adolescent years. Not in a conscious, negative way, there’s just only so many hours in the day when you’re a grown up with grown up responsibilities.
Because of that, we naturally drift a little. Sometimes just a little, other times the drift spans hundreds of miles or decades. We grow apart, our life experiences change us and sometimes we’re no longer the person we were “back then” to the point we become strangers to each other despite those once strong ties.
For a while this troubled me. People who once were such a large presence in your life are suddenly no longer a part of it. You haven’t been to their house, met their significant other. They’ve never met your children. Sometimes you do run into each other and it can be awkward. You really don’t have much in common anymore except a shared past.
Some people are fortunate to keep that contact and are as close in their forties as they were when they were ten. ( Although I suspect even then there’s some mild differences. )Sometimes you pick up where you left off, maybe spend a couple hours together over a couple drinks and then it’s years before you see them again.
It all depends. Friendship is a multi faceted gem.
But the cool thing that happens along the way is, you find new friends. People who also have gone through those same changes you have as time goes by, and those life changes have brought you together. It doesn’t make them better friends, they’re just new friends for a new you. And while of course you cherish the memories of friendships years ago, these are the people Life put here for you for a reason.
What troubles me more and more lately, with social media such a part of our every day lives, the concept of being “friends” has gotten weird. People are forgetting how to be friends in the same way we were for millennia before Pandora Zuckerberg’s box was opened.
There’s a loss of actual personal connection, if ever there was one. That once very organic connection has become more virtual than anything. Going for a bite to eat and conversation becomes swiping by their picture of what they ate ( alone ) and clicking “like”. Ya know, to let them know you’re thinking of them.
We’re letting a good patina become a thin veneer, one click at a time.
I could bang on about my idea of how to be a good friend to others, the lost sense of “community” and more, but I think I’ve gone on enough. Interestingly though, while thinking about what I wanted to write here, I came across this article that I think is more timely than ever. It’s a good piece of advice, and maybe needed more now than ever.
Because of course the best way to have friends is to be a friend. A real one