It all starts when we are children. Our first friends are our stuffed animals. Once we realize that stuffed animals don’t actually talk, we move on to real living people. Our stuffed animals get thrown into a box or donated for some other kid to love. As we grow through school, our friends change as we go through our first loves, first jobs and then college. While there are always exceptions to the rule, friends are not forever.
All it takes is that one missed text message or that event that you didn’t go together but always had in the past. A missed birthday or Christmas gift. Just that one missed connection can set off a growing seed of doubt that that friendship is no longer vital to our life.
Friendship is so fragile.
When we allow friendship to hold its own without any legitimate human connection, it often crumbles. That one-on-one time spent exchanging energies is vital to keep the fire alive. In recent years, social media has been the death knell of many tried and true friendships of the past, and while it could be argued that it has forged new bonds that would have otherwise never happened, social media friending cheapens the friendship experience.
Once upon a time, we would receive a birthday card containing a hand-written note. An ink-stained piece of paper that connected you to the hand of your friend. Now, if you are lucky, all you get is a comment on a timeline: “Happy Birthday!” If you are really close, you get a meme. When a person passes away in your family, instead of a phone call to offer condolences, you get a sad face or a heart.
Friendship needs human to human connection to survive. It struggles in the cloud.
I recently went through my list of friends on Facebook. As I scrolled through the list, I realized that I have lost touch with many of them. I have elected instead to keep tabs on them through their status updates, pictures and limited brief comments which makes me wonder: are they still friends anymore? Or have they become acquaintances? Am I sad about that?
The most challenging thing about the whole friendship dynamic is that we all change. Whether or not the union between two people changes is up to each individual. As we grow older, our needs change and so too are the demands of our friendship. If our needs in a friendship are not met, cracks begin to appear, it is within those cracks that weeds of doubt sprouts. So as we grow and change, we need to hold on to pieces of our past to maintain that relationship, but maybe we are unwilling to do so. We are just growing at entirely different speeds.
A true friend is one who overlooks your failures and tolerates your successes! – Doug Larson
Social media may seem like a culprit to the destruction of friendship, it is not. It merely is an accelerator to the inevitable end. I am sure when the telephone was invented so many years ago, it too led to the disruption of friendship. The necessity to meet face-to-face began to sag as the expectation of having a good friend a phone call away was all you needed. Eventually, you realized you didn’t need that lifeline anymore.
The beauty of friendship is that as we grow apart from other friends, there are often new ones that come right in behind. We cycle through many different friendships throughout our lifetime and very few of us are lucky enough to hold onto some for a majority of it. Appreciate those who you have close to you right now, they are giving you their best that they have. Soon enough though, as fate will have it, you will both grow apart, and like all those friends from before, you will become somebody that they used to know.