In prosperity our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends. – John Churton Collins
I must warn you that I am in a very philosophical mood and what I think I want to write and what I end up writing may be slightly different. At the same time, I’ve sort of fallen out of love with the 21st century – if that’s even possible. The irony being that if it wasn’t for this century, I couldn’t be sat on my own laptop talking to the entire world whenever I want. I’m not ungrateful, maybe just nostalgic for what could have been.
Anyway, I chose this quote because I think there is several different interpretations to it (clearly I should have done an English degree instead of a History one). The most obvious interpretation is that we know you our true friends are because they are the ones that help clean up after the party, ring you whenever and don’t try to schedule you. You just fit into their life automatically and vice versa.
In today’s day and age with the advance of the internet and social media it is possible for us to have more friends than we could ever have imagined. Although psychiatrists have suggested that we can’t maintain social connections with more than one hundred and fifty people – this goes back to stone age times when we wouldn’t have met or interacted with that many different, diverse people. It makes it harder to really know who your friends are though and who we can trust.
I say this because we’re all on social network sites and if you go through your friends list and look at all those names, can you honestly say that you are a good friend to all those people? To people who you went to school with but barely ever spoke to? I think the best example is my Dad. He’s sixty two and we got him a laptop for Christmas. Automatically, he got Facebook and one day rung me up saying that a woman at work, who he doesn’t have many dealings with, had added him on Facebook and he couldn’t understand why. He didn’t understand why someone who he doesn’t really know that well would want to be his friend. Now obviously you can argue that it is a chance for them to get to know each other better. But for my Dad it was so weird. And he has a point. We are all guilty of being friends with people online who don’t really know or haven’t spoken to in years. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we do it because we want to be nosey and see what the people who were popular or mean to us at school, are doing now.
Now baring this in mind, doesn’t it make you worry that if you post your personal life online, people who aren’t your friends are going to enjoy the times when you’re struggling? It can’t be denied that some people thrive on having thousands of friends – it means there is always someone there to like your status. But we can’t maintain that many friendships and ultimately people fall through the cracks.
The reason I’m thinking like this is because I gave up Facebook for Lent and I was starting to feel cut off or out of the loop.It made me think about how if I was to go back on Facebook they would only be a handful of people I would want to talk to because I miss them. I currently have a running joke that if I delete any more people of my Facebook, I’ll only have one friend and that’ll be Dale – poor him!
It’s like when you go off to University and then come home and realise just how small your home town is. You gain a new perspective and it’s hard to see it any other way. But when you do this, you see people in a different light and you realise who has your best interests at heart and who don’t.
Now I’m a bit like marmite; you either love me or you hate me. That’s never really bothered me much to be honest. Naturally I’m quiet around people which obviously leads to problems when making friends, but once you’re my friend, well, good luck escaping – you’ll need it. The same way I don’t start a conversation unless I have a reason too. That sounds awful but I don’t like pointless conversations.
Anyway, enough of my tangent. What I’m trying to say is, is that in my opinion, it seems harder to know who your real friends are when everyone wants to know your business. And the majority of those people just want to know to be nosey. I think my best example would be when I was in Year 11 – six years ago. My best friend had a lunchtime detention and I was with Dale. We were stood under this vent that blew out hot air and some of the other lads wanted to be under it as well. I won’t go into details but basically Dale and this lad got into an altercation, which me being female, left me in tears. When I went to my afternoon lesson and saw my friend. I burst into tears again. She was calming me down when this other girl came over. I have nothing against this girl, but we weren’t friends. We’d barely ever spoken and, she wanted to know what was wrong. Obviously we didn’t tell her, but it makes you think, how would she gain from knowing what was wrong? How could she help? Well she couldn’t. Admittedly, I may be slightly cynical about this and she could have just been trying to be nice.
My point is though, we don’t know. When someone we haven’t spoken to in a long time asks about our problems, are they being a friend or being nosey? I sometimes wish that I’d grown up thirty years ago because back then if you wanted to stay friends with someone, you had to put real effort in. You couldn’t just add them on Facebook and then only talk to them when you feel guilty that you haven’t seen them in a while. As cliché as it sounds, I do think it was easier then. You knew who your friends were and you weren’t. Today it is harder to differentiate between those who care and those who revel in your suffering.
In my case, I play my cards close to my chest. I don’t tell people, in general, very much. And when I do, I laugh it off. Only my family, Dale’s family and my close close friends get to see me cry. So if I tell you something, it’ll probably means I view you as a close friend so don’t screw it up!
Anyway that is where my mind is right now. Feel free to disagree and remind me why the 21st century is so great!