People use words for things that don’t exist. It’s how many authors do fiction. I’d like to add one more word to the set of things that don’t exist: Friendship.
Philosophically, the idea is old. The 18th century philosopher Kant even contemplated the idea of a friendless world:
“Even if there has never been a single example of a sincere friend, we would still be under the moral obligation to maintain pure sincerity in friendship.” (Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals)
I know friendship is dead because to be honest, I don’t have any friends – at least not the friends that existed for me from 2002 – 2006, or the friends I had in high school and college. Friendship was a full-time affair, and really shouldn’t it be? If what makes life worth having is the company of friends, how is it that technology is more important than friendship?
Last year there was someone I knew that was suicidal. Who helped her? The two people that weren’t on Facebook, and on facebook this someone has over 2,000 “friends.”
I’m not going to say that the Internet is bad or that good and even miraculous things don’t come from the Internet.
I do agree with the theory found in “A General Theory of Love” written by two awesome doctors from UCSF that as biological creatures we need proximity and touch in order to heal, maintain, relate and friend.
We have to admit, those who have been around before and after the smart phone and before and after Facebook, that something is qualitatively different.
We have to admit there is something machine-like and sinister about our inability to authentically connect with others.
What can we do?
Be highly skeptical of the use of the word, “friend,” in social media. I won’t name names, but if you are a venture capitalist and somebody is calling you “friend” on Instagram, they are really only after your money. No, your photos are not awesome. Having money to buy great gear might give you bokeh or “sharp at the corners” but it doesn’t make you a photographer. You have to troll people these days to get an honest critique of your photos on Instagram.
If you find yourself calling someone a friend, ask yourself seriously if you’re confusing your feelings at the moment with the pre-requisite sincerity (see above) that is required of friendship.
Throw a dinner every now and then and see who invites you back. Honestly I’ve stopped throwing my Wednesday night dinners because:
1) I don’t feel I could ever meet the standards of people who throw dinners for me. This is only 2 people.
2) The majority of people I’ve invited over for dinner have never invited me over for dinner. About 33 people on Facebook that I just want to un-friend right now.
3) I’ve probably enjoyed your hospitality in some other way, but honestly, you and your crowd never made me feel good enough.
Such quibble as above is hardly worth the trouble. After all this is the post-friendship era.
Friendship is dead. Long live “friendship.”