Who’s your friend?

In college psychology, I remember learning that the best predictor of friendship is proximity, which is a pretty sad comment on the meaning, or at least the practice, of friendship.  Facebook removes distance, so I find myself thinking, “What is a friend, really?”

My wife’s definition is still the best:  “A friend is someone who is always happy to see you.”  That’s excellent, but it applies best to dogs and worst to anyone who has something to offer – even if you’re just offering another chance to some former friend who delights in skewering you, so I’ll expand…

A friend wants the best for you. 

A friend has the ability to comprehend you.  Not everyone has enough intelligence, charity or similar experiences to understand you.

A friend wants to see you sometimes.

A friend usually responds to calls or notes.  I hate to admit this, but I know some people who, quite often, don’t respond.  They may be trying to tell me something, but I also think that one-sided communication has become the norm: we’re a nation of broadcasters.  In any case, broadcasters don’t make good friends.

You can say almost anything to a friend.  My friends on Facebook include PR agents, vendors, and other people who would never say to me what’s on their minds, nor I to them.  I’m self-conscious in my own friend-yard.

It’s important to have opportunities for random friendships, which is one of the reasons I go to Rotary, church and other public meetings, but I don’t see that happening online.  I don’t see it happening at reunions either, which is why my high school friends and I have decided to have our own reunion next year in some nice city that is not where we went to high school.  We’ll drink, tell stories and toast each with genuine interest.

Life is short.  I’m going to spend more time with my friends.

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Published in: on August 21, 2009 at 3:36 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “A friend has the ability to comprehend you.”

    Yes, I agree.

    “Not everyone has enough intelligence, charity or similar experiences to understand you.”

    I think it’s also about caring enough to make the effort to cross whatever divide may exist. If an effort is made to get outside of oneself enough to pay attention to the situation of others, I think barriers of dis-similar life experiences, intelligence or (lack of) charity might well be overcome.

    However, I also think that this takes great effort for most of us, even when the divides are relatively small. As you say, as FB and twitter users many times we do seem to be a “nation of broadcasters”, which, if you think about it is a pretty self-centered activity. Self-centered-ness is kind of the antithesis to friendship, isn’t it?

    • Very true. Broadcasting / self-centeredness IS the antithesis of friendship, which may one of the reasons why our public discourse has become so strident and unproductive. Who are your friends?

      Glenn

  2. That’s a good question. I think for me personally it’s a constantly changing set of people. At any given time, my friends seem to be ones with whom I share common interests and can share work towards the fruition of a project that is deemed worthwhile. I notice that “working” tends to be a large component of who I end up hanging around with. In this context, the work is fun, like creating music, for example. Mean people most certainly I do not consider to be friends.


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