But with the rise of the Internet age and social networking, the concept of friendship has changed -- as has the definition of friend. Indeed type "friend definition" into Google and the first item that pops up is "Verb: Add (someone) to a list of contacts associated with a social networking Web site."
When did friend become a verb and not a person? (That, btw, is a rhetorical question. Though if you are looking for an answer, look no farther than Facebook, or Friendster.)
And why am I prattling on about all this friend stuff anyway?
So glad you asked.
Like so many things of late, it's because of my daughter. (Ah, the joys of parenting.) More specifically, my daughter's wrestling with how a girl she thought was one of her really good friends could repeatedly be so insensitive to her feelings and hurtful, especially on her (my daughter's) birthday.
Which, me being me and her being her, led to a discussion (not the first) of their being many different kinds of friends, or levels of friendship -- and that one of the most difficult parts of growing up was figuring out who your true friends were (love this definition) and who were your frenemies, or people you probably shouldn't be telling your deepest darkest secrets to or counting on for help. (The girl in question is in the latter category.)
But rather than turning this into an essay on friendship (and boring you all to tears) -- I offer up the following two quotes from a wonderful little book titled The Art of Friendship, written by Roger Horchow (whom Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in The Tipping Point) and Sally Horchow (his daughter), which I came across years ago and now keep by my desk.
Friendship is not always easily defined. There is a range of meaningful relationships, and not all of them need to be of the close, call-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the night variety to be worthwhile.So true.
Work friendships, situational friendships, cordial acqaintanceships--the varieties are as plentiful as the people you meet. Each type of friend should be treated with respect and the appropriate level of affection. If you stay open to the possibilities for friendships that do not necessarily conform to the most common expectations, you are likely to engage in some rewarding interactions that you would otherwise miss out on.
Indeed, while I often complain that too many of my good friends live too far away for us to get together regularly, and that I rarely get to meet new people working at home (and being an introvert and having an unpredictable work schedule that makes it impossible to make or keep dates many times), I am grateful for my many Facebook and blog friends, many of whom I have never met, who post witty comments here and on my Facebook page -- and consistently brighten my day and make me feel not so alone (or lonely) in this big, scary, confusing world. Thank you.