I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long while, and as the guest post planned for this week has been delayed, I’ll take the opportunity to open a discussion I’ve long been wanting to have. Just what is a friend?
I think the connotation of “friendship” has changed dramatically over the past eight years — since the birth of facebook in 2004. Facebook turned the word ‘friend’ into a verb. It was always a noun, or could be turned into an adjective by making it ‘friendly.’
But all of a sudden … the word ‘friend’ became a verb as well, and now we’re ‘friending’ people, and being ‘friended’ by others. What does all that mean? What is the true meaning of friendship in 2012?
I’ve thought long and hard about this, as many of my close friends are not online at all. And some of them only use e-mail sparingly. That forces me to pick up the phone if I want to talk to them, and get in my car (or on a plane!) if I want to see them.
Those friendships take more effort to maintain as it’s not a simple click of a button to send out a FB update or tweet (via Twitter.) Yet, they are important to me and I try very hard to go the extra mile to make sure I keep in touch with all on an equal basis.
Online “friends” real and otherwise will know more quickly what’s happening in my life as I’m on virtually every social media platform and respond quickly to (most) e-mails.
Being a Gemini, communication comes easily to me, and I’m far less protective about my privacy than maybe I should be. I am a connector, and love to put people in touch with one another. That’s what’s so great about social media. We can connect ourselves with others at the click of a button. We don’t have to make time for a telephone call unless we choose to. We don’t have to take time to meet for lunch or a drink unless it’s mutually convenient.
I admit to indulging in those pleasures far less frequently than I would like. I never seem to have enough time for anything anymore. But I do try and make time for those who are important to me in the real world, not just that world that exists on my screen.
What really pleases me is when friendships that originate online turn into real, in-person friendships, where we make a special effort to meet and engage with that individual on a personal and very real basis.
I’m looking forward to that later this month and early next month, when I’ll attend back-to-back writers’ conferences and meet fellow members of The Writers Union of Canada and the Professional Writers Association of Canada at their annual conferences.
And … I’ll spend a few days with a very dear friend in Vancouver who has participated in every part of my life since 1973 when we first met. Wow! I just realized that our friendship will be 40 years old next year! That calls for a real celebration.
For now, I’ll settle for some fine wine, great food, amazing chocolate and good times to fuel the friendship fire and keep it burning strong.
I’m grateful to everyone who has been joining the conversations on this blog. (If you haven’t been reading and subscribing to the comments, you’re missing out on a whole lot of wit and wisdom from members of our tribe!)
I now welcome you to share your thoughts on the changing meaning and dimensions of friendship in the 21st century. And please join us back here the week of May 14th for our next post.