I’m not sure if you all noticed, but the meaning of the word “friend” seems to have changed quite drastically over the last 10 or so years. To be as cheesy as possible, I will say “webster’s dictionary defines ‘friend’ as”:
1 a: one attached to another by affection or esteem b: acquaintance
2 a: one that is not hostile b: one that is of the same nation, party, or group
3: one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)
4: a favored companion
So, what does this mean to me? Well… this means someone that you share a mutual caring for. That means that you actually care about what is happening in this persons life. This means that you enjoy their company… their physical, in-the-same-place, company.
To me, a real friend is someone that will listen to whatever you have to say and not judge you for it. A real friend is someone that you can call at 2:37am when you just need someone to talk to or are stranded somewhere. A real mutual friendship is one in which BOTH parties look forward to seeing the other often. If seeing each other is not an option, they, at the very least express some want to see the other.
So… back to the point…
About 10 years ago, I think, social networking started becoming mainstream. I think this was around the time that MySpace emerged. Old OLS (OnLine Services) like AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServ had been around for a while and you COULD communicate with people, but not in the capacity that social networking allowed.
As social networking became more and more pervasive in our lives (i.e. FaceBook, Twitter, etc) we started become more connected, but at the same time, relationships no longer take any work. Today, saying you are “friends” with someone has degraded to saying “Oh, I’m friends with that person. I comment on their photos and status”. Bullshit. The hell you are.
If that person called you in the middle of the night you would probably answer your phone and first say “who??”, followed by, “no, I’m not coming to help you… don’t you have any other friends??”.
Come on… let’s stop kidding ourselves. Social networks no longer allow people to feel as if they have lost a friend. People these days are completely content to call someone that they have not actually spoken to in 3 years a “friend”. FaceBook/MySpace/Twitter has allowed you to be a glorified stalker. You know EVERYTHING that happens in that person life… who they’re dating, where they went to school, what they did last night, what they did two Christmases ago… and you haven’t spoken to them in 3 years. Tell me, how is that a friend.
Here’s a counterpoint. When I left Manhattan School of Music, I thought I had made some really good friends. I lived in the same city, just an hour away. No one called, no one visited. I made the effort for a little while to call and try to set events up, but, eventually got tired of people not wanting to put in their side of relationship. They were not friends after-all and I had to then deal with the realization that I had LOST ALL MY FRIENDS. That was difficult.
Sure, I’m hypocritical and have some of these people as “friends” on FaceBook, but I hardly consider them friends. No offense, guys, but reading my status and looking at my pictures doesn’t really make us friends.
I guess I’ve done a bit of rambling, so let me try to sum up my major point here… call your relationships what they are. Your “friends” on social networks aren’t really your friends unless you actually do stuff with them, hang out with them, share experiences with them, etc.
Do you actually remember what it feels like to loose a friend? Can you remember what it was like to feel the relationship get wider and wider until finally, you realize one day that you aren’t really friends anymore? I do.
Sure, it’s a little sad, but not everyone has time for everyone else in their lives. All I’m asking is that you think about it.