Saturday, September 23, 2017

These Old Walkin' Shoes: Why Can't We Be Friends

When and how does a friendship start to fade away? When you’re young and are surrounded by your friends, you make claims that you’ll be friends forever. Sometimes, that happens. There are people who are genuinely friends for life. Other times, those friendships slowly erode over time. It’s like you’re friends one day and not the next. It’s more of a matter of longer and longer times between encounters until they just don’t occur anymore.

Imagine, if you will, growing up across the street from a friend. Every morning, you’d walk to school together and share stories. The same thing would happen on the way home. Outside of school, days were filled with games and laughs. Graduation rolls around and you still expect to be great friends until the end of time. You get jobs. College rears its ugly head. Girls happen. Suddenly you’re not talk every day. You still might wave on the way out for the day, but talking happens less and less frequently.

One day, you’ve moved out of your parents’ house into your first apartment. It’s in the same town, but it’s less likely to run into each other. Next thing you know, your friend has packed his own bags and moved. However, he’s moved out of state with no real plans to return after his parents follow suit. The actual words used are, “I have no desire, nor need, to ever come to Lockport ever again.” It is heartbreaking.

A few years later, a very cool invention comes along that allows people to stay in touch with one another much easier than by using the postal service. The internet ties the world together in ways previously inconceivable. Emails could keep people in touch with others all around the world. Then came another step forward with the advent of that social media juggernaut, MySpace, as well as its upstart competitor, Facebook. It was even easier to stay in contact with friends and family widespread across the maps.

It would seem that friendships should be even stronger with all this technology tying us together. Unfortunately, it seems that instead of drawing us closer together, social media has made friendships more cursory than heartfelt. In fact, sometimes it seems that our friends are simply a collection of the greatest numbers. “Oh, how many Twitter followers do YOU have?” “How many Facebook friends do you have?”

Friendship is not a game. It is not a collection of knick knacks to be shown off. We have a perfect opportunity to keep strong friendships even across the miles. Some people do that. Some do not. I know that I really should have a better handle on keeping in touch with all my friends. There are several people I need to reopen a dialog with. Strong friendships in youth should not be voided simply because they live in different area codes.

That is going to be my effort going forward. I am going to get back into touch with old friends. Each day, I will be sending a message or email to people I haven’t spoken to in a long while. And if they respond, maybe we can once again strike up the camaraderie that once upon a time made us laugh together. Friendships are worth that much. More even. I am going to use social media for exactly what it should be meant for -- being social.

I have definitely been guilty of taking my friends for granted. I have quite a list of friends on my Facebook page. Most I rarely speak with. That will be changing. We became friends a long time ago. We also became friends on Facebook for more than just lurking. So, if you’re on my list, be prepared to be hearing from me. It may not make much sense, but then again, have I ever?

Craig Bacon is a social creature. For the most part. Except for days ending in “Y” or months with 28 days.