Are We Lost?

June 19, 2010

When it comes to the definition of friendship, I often wonder… where did we, as people, lose our way? Was it when social sites and networks began or did it start way before then? :-(

As a little girl, back in the 80’s – 90’s, people had a different standard for friendship. A best friend was considered so, because you knew them for a long period of time, spent time with them and emotionally connected with them, usually during school or simply that you grew up in the same neighborhood with them. Of course, in meeting and making friends, this old-school way was very limited. Unlike on the internet, where a person has an opportunity to chat with and connect with millions who live all over the US, and also all over the world in different countries.

In the digital world, of easy access and many ways to communicate, this can be a very good thing sometimes! I have a very close and dear friend, who lives in another state than I do, and we never would have connected without the invention of the internet. Some would like to argue that internet relationships are NOT REAL, because the person is not face-to-face, can lie and make up their lives online, and it’s easy to be fooled online. All of that is true! I have been fooled several times by people who lied about themselves or kept their true selves hidden… and it’s very painful, when I am always honest and upfront, putting my trust in them. But to say that EVERYONE online is a fake, is an huge extreme that is stated by the ignorant and also by the fearful of this new technology. :-/

HOWEVER, in face-to-face relationships, I have had MORE than my share of frenemies (those who pretend to be a friend, but are really wolves in sheep clothing). And I’ve had more frenemies offline than I ever did online. That’s not to say that making friends online is safer, but it’s the same thing as walking up to any stranger on  the street and starting a conversation. There is always and fifty-fifty chance of a person being honest or dishonest, anywhere and everywhere in the world.

But, I’m not here to debate on the whole “internet friends VS in-person friends” discussion. :-p

What I wonder and worry about, is this new attitude that is sweeping cyberspace. People are just too damn quick to label people as “best friends” or “BFF”… when in reality, people rarely stop to LEARN the person they are labeling. Some examples of what I mean are:

1.) I’ve had people try to insist that I’m their best friend, when they have no idea on who I am or vice versa. I know that I write a lot of blogs, but this is just a pale fraction of what I CHOOSE to share with the public. This isn’t the whole me and everything there is to know about me. It’s just the tip of a very large iceberg and I only choose to share EVERYTHING with people that I trust and provided that I feel like they are sharing much of themselves with me also. And only a few people have ever made that effort, because it’s nothing that happens within a day, a week, or a few months. My one true best friend have made more than just an effort! ;-)

2.) My teen-aged brother said something alarming, the other day…. he is often on many social networking sites. He believes that the bigger ones friend-list is, the more important and cared for he is! Yet, in reality, many of these people don’t know him from Adam, as he puts on a front… hiding all his flaws and his many issues from the public. Even stooping to lying and saying he has a job and money, when he doesn’t. To me, you can’t have true friends, if you’re not honest and true yourself. :-/

I have found that many people put emphasis on NUMBERS, on these social networking sites. Many (which I love to call “sleepers”) like to add people on their lists and don’t ever reach out or have long term conversations with others. Once you are on their list, that’s all they wanted, to help pad their need for feeling popular, wanted, important, etc. :-(

But, a true friend is someone who you can share all of your flaws, not just the “good stuff”.  Also it happens over time, with lots of communication, trust is built and not handed out simply because I and the other person like the same band or tv show. A best friend, imho, should be someone that knows all of you, but accepting you anyway! And vice versa.

If a person can’t name what your hobbies are, your dreams, your hopes for the future, your lost dreams, your quirks, your good points and strengths, your fears and weaknesses, your determinations and current goals, likes and interests…. AND, if you can’t do the same, when asked these questions of that person, then that falls into the “acquaintance” category. ;-)

Or, this is how it have been, when I was growing up. I’m not comfortable with calling a person a close friend or best friend, without knowing that person beyond ONE (or two) common interests. And even if we like twenty things together, those are just surface things, especially if they don’t know how I am as a person, learning the way I think and react to things, and vice versa. ALWAYS, “vice versa”, that is the key! As I can’t be a best friend to anyone, if I don’t know more about “Bob” other than he likes the same heavy metal band that I do. :-/

I am always willing to chat, be friendly, and to build an acquaintance status to a “best friend” one, if possible. Not everyone is compatible and should be best friends. And building a true friendship takes TIME and a lot of patience, which can be a little difficult in this age of “instant gratification”. But, I’m never willing to go any further than the other person will… in other words, I’m not going to step up to a virtual stranger and share ALL, in an attempt to make a person my best friend. Information and an emotional bound will only start with an give-and-take attitude. To me, I have no interest in quantity, I prefer QUALITY. ;-)

My best friend and I argue sometimes (sometimes often!), we may not always get along and drive each other up a wall! LOL! But, we always work it out, communicate, and try to understand and have respect for each others feelings. It’s been almost an whole year, since we started out as acquaintances, only with one known common like. And our friendship grew naturally on it’s own. :-)

It never works when it is forced, or tricked into, or simply a person taking advantage of another’s weaknesses. For example: a person is lonely, broken, and desperately needs a friend, therefore someone shows up and builds a friendship based on that! If a friendship only starts because one is in distress, but never grows further than that (unless that person stays in distress and never gets back on their feet), then that actually falls well below “acquaintance”! That’s not an friendship of any kind, just an “codependent relationship”, as one person will always have to stay “sick” for the relationship to work out. :-o

I do believe that people should re-think what a friend really means to them. And to follow their own gut and instinct on it. ;-)



One comment

  1. […] or claim me as one, on these website communities. I had even written a previous post in this blog (06/19/:Are We Lost?), on the subject of how people from these web-communities assume that adding a stranger to their […]

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