Friends in the Age of Facebook

“Friends… How many of us have them? I’m talking about friends, ones we can depend on.”

Since the days of MySpace and Black Planet (for those of us who were born before 1990), the word “friend” has begun to take on less of a meaningful role in the English language. I remember trying to get my then-girlfriend to sign up for MySpace at the time it was in. Social networking. It was the cool thing to do.

Now we have progressed to Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Facebook, to name some of the more popular ones. All individual mediums but all with one thing in common: to connect with “friends.” This leads me to ask, “What value do we place on a word that is thrown around like a baseball at Yankee Stadium on opening day?” The more we shorten words, the easier it is to use them and the more likely we are to use them. For instance, “BFF” is an abbreviation for “best friend forever,” right? To me, there can only be one “best” and “forever” is a very very long time. I’ve seen plenty of pairs who started off undergrad as BFFs fall out over something minor before we all walked across the stage to receive our degrees. However I feel that, in order to be called my friend on any level, I am making a tremendous commitment to you. A true friend, not just an acquaintance, is someone you would literally share your last dollar with. A best friend is one you would give your last dollar to knowing they wouldn’t ask if they didn’t need it.

Example.

I remember that, the summer after college, my best friend/line brother/roommate Stevan Dozier and I were broke. I was recently employed and awaiting my first check. He had just gotten some major work done on his car and was a week from his check too. Credit cards were maxed out. For a week, the two of us had $24 and some change put together. So we split every meal. Literally split cheeseburgers. We’d pump in a gallon of gas and hope the price went down by the time we needed more. The day before we got paid we had about 10 left so we bought a 4 piece box of KFC (w/ a coupon of course) and a $6 pint of whiskey (never doing that again) and celebrated making it.

That is a friend. The people who never met my father but came to his funeral to support me are friends. Someone who cannot talk with you for 3 months because life happens and we get busy but who makes you smile when their name pops up on the phone, that is a friend.

Facebook does not build friends. Twitter does not make leaders. Google+… Really, I’m still trying to figure out what exactly it does do. And I KNOW LinkedIn itself doesn’t get you jobs. But what I do know is that friendship, in its true form, has value. It’s found in shared experiences. In victory and defeat. In love and loss. In somber moments or in times of humor. That is where friendship is found. Not in an LCD screen.

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