In this age of Facebook and social networks, you may think that friends are like commodities. However, ask someone how many of their Facebook friends are actually close friends (you know, the ones that they would pour your heart to) and those numbers quickly diminish to a handful.
Your friends list may include people that you have shared many personal moments with over the course of your life. It will probably include the best friends from high school, the ones you could talk to for hours each night on the phone, despite having spent that day together in class. Your drinking buddies from university are also probably on the list, the same ones that you would see most nights at the various university bars, depending on which one had happy hour. If you’ve worked for a few different employers, your close colleagues will undoubtedly also be your Facebook friends.
Facebook makes it easy to stay within easy reach of everyone, with its ease of broadcasting your whereabouts as well as your last meal, but realistically, how many of these people would you really make an effort to catch up with on a one-to-one basis? You may think to yourself, “man, it would be great to catch up with Steve”, but in reality, your time is finite and as much as you would love to bump into them and exchange some pleasantries, there are at least 20 other closer friends that you would rather spend time with.
There is the saying that you have friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for life. When you think about it, people come into your life over the years, but they also fall out of your life as well. You leave school or university, you change jobs, hobbies and interests come and go, and the people that you associate with drop off and you gain new friends in a new circle.
Even with your inner circle of friends, those that you swore would be your friends for life, the friendships can ebb and flow throughout the years. You may outgrow them, or they may outgrow you. This is particularly true when your friends fall into relationships, get married, or have children. Being at different stages of life can make it incredibly difficult to maintain friendships when one simply doesn’t comprehend why their friend has disappeared off the face of the planet, or why their friend can’t find time between mothers groups and nap times to meet up for lunch.
How hard should one work at a friendship when it seems that you no longer have anything in common? Should one bother persisting with attempts to organise lunches and dinners with friends that are constantly bailing? When do you accept that they were a friend for a reason or a season, and they were not a friend for life? Or should one just wait patiently for the difficult period to pass, keeping friends in a holding pattern until you have reached the same stage of life as they have and you have both again reached that common ground?
Some may criticise Facebook and other social networks as diminishing the quality of our friendships, but in some ways, we can be thankful that they help us keep all our friendships in easy reach. We may not be able to spend proper, quality time with everyone that we want to, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t want those people in our lives any longer. We all just want to keep those special people in our lives for as long as we can.
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