Sunday, January 11, 2015

Friendship

The definition of friendship has evolved over the years, and not just in the way it does when one moves into adulthood and tends to spend more time with family. As we get older, we certainly find we have less time to spend just hanging out with our friends, whether it's because of family responsibilities, work or just plain laziness.

But social media has also allowed us to stretch that definition to places it has never gone before. While we may have more "friends" than ever in the digital sense, we've become increasingly more isolated to the point where we may never see those we consider our best friends in a calendar year, even though we only live a few miles away from each other. And if the friend in question isn't on social media, forget about it; out of sight, out of mind takes on a whole new meaning when someone isn't on Facebook.

For years after graduating from college, I made genuine attempts to get together with my closest friends at least a few times a year. That got harder to do as people started families or moved further away. Starting in the late '90s, email became a good way to stay in touch with friends and about a decade later, most of us (but not all of us) ended up on Facebook. Unfortunately, all these great communication tools don't necessary translate into closer friendships. It's more like base maintenance: checking in periodically for status updates.

Fast forward to now: Getting together with old friends happens less often. It really takes an effort to organize a gathering. And they still happen from time to time, usually in the form of family-oriented cookouts or house parties. Sometimes there are group meet-ups at bars or restaurants with former co-workers or other friends. But more often than not, we've all become homebodies, and for good reason.

Of course, friendship takes on many forms. I have a fair number of friends I've met via social media, whether through following them on their podcasts or blogs or just meeting them through mutual friends on Facebook or Twitter. Some I've met in person, some I haven't. In some cases, I have more contact with them than I do with some of my oldest friends.

Often I feel as though I could do more to stay in better touch with my friends, but it's hard. And I try not to beat myself up about it, because it's not like they're calling me, either. I guess all we can do is just keep trying.





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