Tuesday, December 20, 2016

By Any Other Name?

My personal definition of "friendship" aspires to a threshold few can achieve. It involves qualities like "loyalty," "caring," "devotion," stuff like that. 
Then I observe a supposed friendship, and I witness back-stabbing, jealousy, and indifference. Head scratching ensues. 

When I hear, "I can't believe my friend said/did that," then I must respond: Sweetie, she wasn't a friend in the first place. Then the sentence makes sense. 

My befuddlement with the modern perception regarding "friendship" is shared by many, I was relieved to read ("Do Your Friends Actually Like You?" by Kate Murphy). When asked, study subjects couldn't say what "friend" means. 

We can say what it isn't: It is not a symbiotic relationship. Take the SJF; she has time on her hands, and would like someone to hang with. Other SJFs oblige. Then one of them gets engaged. Despite their generous gifts and showers, following her marriage she disappears. Not a text, email, or gushing voicemail. 

Time for the grand reveal: She wasn't a friend in the first place. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement. If any of the others had married instead, it would be the same. 
By [Ronald Sharp's] definition, friends are people you take the time to understand and allow to understand you.
Friendship involves depth, vulnerability, a meeting of minds and souls. Just because you do stuff with someone doesn't automatically make you friends. Ask yourself this: If a better offer came around, would you leave them in the dust?

This is not a matter of quantity, says the article. Schoolyard pride in "a million friends" is kinda sad in adulthood.   
Such boasting implies they have soul mates to spare in a culture where we are taught that leaning on someone is a sign of weakness and power is not letting others affect you. But friendship requires the vulnerability of caring as well as revealing things about yourself that don’t match the polished image in your Facebook profile or Instagram feed, said Mr. Nehamas at Princeton. Trusting that your bond will continue, and might even be strengthened, despite your shortcomings and inevitable misfortunes, he said, is a risk many aren’t willing to take.
One can stand in a crowded room of so-called "friends" and still be very, very much alone. I would much rather be seen by one or two.  

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