Here I go again, blogging about friendships. I promise I’m not here this time to have a moan, and I will try to keep things somewhat positive. I just want to have a discussion. As I think a lot of young adults do, I contemplate the state of my friendships. I have some friends I see fairly often in person because we live near each other. I have some friends I don’t live near but we still communicate fairly regularly. I have some friends I don’t really talk to that often, but I’d be game to hang out any time, though I’m aware of the fact that for some, we never will and eventually the friendship will end. I have some friends I only know through the internet. And then I have some acquaintances.
For me personally, I separate friends from acquaintances/strangers/people I know of based on a mutual voluntary willingness to interact on one’s own time. When I was in university and on the Quidditch team, I one day said something during a conversation at practice like, “oh, I don’t have many friends” and then someone pointed out, “well there’s like fifteen of us here; what are we?” I replied that they were mostly acquaintances. No one was on the team because they personally liked me. They were there because they wanted to play Quidditch and would be doing so regardless of if I was there or not. Showing up to the same practices I do does not count as friendship to me if I never interacted with them outside of those few hours of structure and we never were particularily close while there anyway. I got razzed for this belief for the rest of the year, but I do stand by it (though I probably shouldn’t have said it).
In the blogosphere, I often see tweets asking “Are we Instagram friends yet?” accompanied by a link to the person’s Insta account, and that lowkey bothers me. I’m not hating on anyone who does this, but I personally don’t think that following someone on Instagram counts as friendship, and even throwing out the option of that is ridiculous because it’s so unlikely. There are more genuine ways to garner followers, I think, than pretending you’re building meaningful relationships. Because to me, that’s what a friend is: a meaningful relationship.
Everybody wants friends and everybody likes friends, but friendship and how we approach it has changed a lot in the past few years. Because of social media, it’s easier to keep up with people far away, but is liking a post enough to maintain friendships? Sometimes I’ll see a tweet like “I don’t care if we haven’t talked in a year, you can call me and we’ll be the exact same as we were, I love friendships like that!” Is this sentiment true for you, because I don’t know how I’d react if some person I haven’t talked to in a year for no reason showed up and tried to pretend nothing changed.
It’s interesting that the media puts so much emphasis on having one close friend group. From Friends to The Bold Type to even Supergirl, Blindspot, and The Big Bang Theory, these ‘squads’ of close, family-like friends are seen as the ultimate goal of life. Find your tribe, and all that, which is great, but I think most people don’t have that. Most people have friends from various points of their in life. But shows like Friends rarely show other friends who are just as loved but not living in the same city or part of the squad or whatever.
Though interestingly enough, the people these shows are targetting seem to have neither. There are a bunch of articles stating that though Millenials/Gen-Z are the most connected, we’re also the loneliest. Is this because the friend focus is being put on the wrong people? Or because we’re content with a just few Likes? Or because we’re too poor to actually go hang out with friends? Or because we don’t know how to talk to people?
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t thrive in a lot of social settings. I sometimes have trouble talking to new people and I do fear that I’ll never make more close friends because everyone knows that making friends as an adult is hard. That’s why I’m even more grateful for the friends I do have now. I’m so glad we voluntarily interact and lift each other up and laugh together.
As much as we’d all like a squad of our own, it’s more important to cherish the friends you have and ensure that those relationships are as strong and healthy as you want them to be, even if they’re not Instagram-perfect. Don’t be fooled into thinking follower count = friend count, unless you choose to define it that way and are content with that.
How do you define friendship and what do you think about the media’s portrayal of friendships?