That's what friends are for...
July 30th is the UN’s International Friendship Day and that has started me thinking about concept of friends and the meaning of friendship.
And I’ve decided that Facebook has a lot to answer for. Thanks to them, the whole meaning of ‘friends’ has changed. "To friend" someone is a verb now, and a fairly passive one at that.
We used to ‘befriend’ someone - or better yet, we learned how to be a friend. But in the era of social media, the meaning of ‘friend’ has morphed from a person we trust and enjoy sharing time with – to a collection of people that we broadcast to like an audience, that we hope are ‘following’ us, that we want to ‘like’ what we do and say… Today it’s about numbers, and the more the better.
Old schoolmates, ex-colleagues, random encounters - and sometimes total strangers are all in our ‘friends’ basket. And these friends are treated like databases with our focus on collecting more friends, not on being friends. We have gone from sharing time to sharing posts.
And in the process, we are losing something. The active engagement necessary for real friendship…
So that’s my commitment on this International Friendship Day. To remember what being a friend really means. Yes, it’s about trust, loyalty, honesty and respect… but there’s also the support, commitment and selflessness that only come from investing time and energy in someone else. The greatest gift we can give is our full attention and awareness - our time - to be fully present in the moment; listening, comforting, advising… doing whatever is needed. Being a real friend is about wanting the best for someone else - and wanting to help them be and become their best. And that’s about putting in the time - over time - to be there.
I asked myself when was the last time that I picked up the phone - just to call a friend, just to check how they were doing. Or the last time I truly set quality time aside - just to catch up… Texting doesn’t count, nor does Messenger-ing or ‘What’s App’-ing. Face to face is what makes contact meaningful - whether it’s serious times or silly times.
So today, I’m reminding myself to remember friendship is active - not passive and encouraging others to do the same. Yes, I’m doing it in a post , but I’m picking up the phone next.