...dedicated to a dear friend of mine
“To find a friend, one must close one eye- to keep him, two,” noted Norman Douglas. Yet what, in our brave new mediated world, is friendship becoming? A quarter of a century back, we had an average of three close friends, to whom you can tell anything. And now, when we are Facebooked and Twittered to our eyebrows, how many real friends do we have? One or two, not 500 (as we say looking at our friend list!) and it won’t be surprising if anyone out of the crowd says- none! The more people we know, the lonelier we get.
We live at a time when friendship has become both all and nothing at all. We’re friends with everyone. But once we decide to be friends with everyone, we forget how to be friends with anyone. Are our friendships now anything more than a form of distraction on which scientists are conducting studies and bewaring us to stay away? Facebook seduces us, however, into exactly that illusion, inviting us to believe that by assembling a list, we have conjured a group. Visual juxtaposition creates the mirage of emotional proximity. The paradox of our “weirdly-wired” world is that as we become more connected electronically, we become less connected emotionally.
The most disturbing thing about social networking sites is the extent to which people are willing- are eager- to conduct their private lives in public. Until a few years ago, we shared our thoughts with only one friend or a very small group at a time. Now we’re just broadcasting our stream of consciousness, to all 500 of our virtual friends, hoping that someone, anyone, will confirm our existence by commenting or tweeting back. Are we so hungry for validation? We haven’t just stopped talking to our friends as individuals at such moments; we have stopped “thinking” of them as individuals. What purpose do all those wall posts, photo tags and status updates serve other than our desperation to show what a deep caring person we are!
Social media and text messaging were supposed to knit us closer together. But by valuing “friending” over friendship, “networking” over neighbourliness and “contacts” over closeness, we are devolving what once was among the life’s richest relationships.
When I think about my friends, what makes them who they are, and why I love them, it is not the list of their likes that comes to mind or their “About Me” on Facebook profiles. Friendship has been smoothly integrated into our new electronic lifestyles. We ourselves have let the cobwebs of excuses of not having time; settle around us and the luxury of technology today don’t let us break those strands of complacency. We’re too busy to spare our friends more time than it takes to send a text.
Posting information over internet can never replace the feeling of sharing stories with friends. Posting information is like pornography, a slick, impersonal exhibition giving a momentary and deceiving sense of pleasure. Exchanging stories is like making love: probing, questing, questioning, caressing. It is mutual. It is intimate. It takes patience, devotion, sensitivity, subtlety and heart. Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession but friendship is never anything but sharing. In today’s world, if you’ve got even one friend with whom you can share your stories then you’re really lucky. Treasure that friend. This very moment, take a step to let that friend knows what a world he /she mean to you like I’ve tried today on the birthday of one of my really real friend who, I know, is always there to listen to my endless stories and answer my endless (at times inane) questions. Woodrow Wilson observed, “Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world.”
To my Very Best Friend
Published in Free Press: 6th Feb,2012