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Friendships May 9, 2022

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, People.
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I read an article by Julie Beck in The Atlantic this weekend that got me thinking:

How Friendships Change Over Time.

The author addressed how our childhood friendships evolve as we head off to college, graduate, get married, have kids, start work, move across the country, care for parents, etc.

Increased responsibilities and demands on our time coupled with the lack of contiguity often mean that friendships, even longstanding friendships, fade.

We no longer see our companions on a daily basis to hang out, listen to records, play Frisbee, pop popcorn, and chat about anything and everything.

Instead, we make plans to get together . . . in two weeks time.

Friendships, like ships, diverge as we chart our life course.

Years ago, we “stayed in touch” with our compadres with annual missives at Yuletide which recounted the highlights (or low lights) of the year.  Now, with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, we are able keep tabs on each other year round . . . without ever really connecting:

If you never see your friends in person, you’re not really sharing experiences so much as just keeping each other updated on your separate lives. It becomes a relationship based on storytelling rather than shared living—not bad, just not the same.

Via social media, we give our followers a “heads up” on the happenings in our life and they give us a “thumbs up” to acknowledge that they saw what we said.

But is that enough to maintain ties?

Probably not.

Friendships based solely on storytelling aren’t apt to have the same depth and dimension as those based on getting together on a regular basis to do something . . . together.

“If we only have the Facebook tie, that’s probably a friendship that’s in greater jeopardy of not surviving into the future,” Ledbetter says.

* * *

Social media makes it possible to maintain more friendships, but more shallowly. And it can also keep relationships on life support that would (and maybe should) otherwise have died out.

Oh, for the days when we “hung out” with our friends every day.

Not in chat rooms, but in person.

Without having to “tidy up” first.

Aah . . . that’s better!

 

Comments»

1. Ally Bean - May 9, 2022

Yep. I agree with this. I left FB where I had “friends” to learn who my true friends are. Fascinating who stays in touch when it requires just a little bit of effort. 🙄

nrhatch - May 9, 2022

I did much the same, Ally. I tired of FB with all the the pseudo friendships with people I hadn’t seen in years and (likely) would never see face to face again. And, with few exceptions, I don’t spend much time wondering what they are up to these days ~ many I haven’t seen since high school, others since college. Letting go of FB was the right thing to do for me.

What I miss is the contiguity of neighborhood friends who are available at the drop of a hat to just hang out. Instead, I have LOTS and LOTS of friendly acquaintances in the hood that I see when walking, biking, at water aerobics, playing Bridge, at Pizza and Game night, etc. It is social interaction. And it’s far better than FB since I can hear them when they LOL, but the relationships still seem somewhat superficial with no depth and no deep discussions.

Why don’t you come over for coffee and we can discuss it in more detail while we Hang Out???

Ally Bean - May 9, 2022

If we lived closer you know I’d be there. ☕️

I know what you mean about superficial relationships among the people who I see in real life. I’ve come figure that is just how it is now– either because of my age or because of the political times in which we live. There is no depth anymore, just ships that pass in the night.

nrhatch - May 9, 2022

Every once in a while I have a “real” conversation with someone . . . it’s such a pleasure.

2. Kate Crimmins - May 9, 2022

I went through a funk a few weeks back when my bestie from my New Jersey days moved to Denver. I hadn’t seen her in years dispute being only 1-1/2 hour away but we stayed connected. She’s not on FB so it took a little work. When she moved to Denver after her husband died, I felt “orphaned.” Not that I saw her often but because I knew I could. She was a “friend for the season” that hung around for 20 years afterward. Friendship is complicated.

nrhatch - May 9, 2022

I wish you and Ally could join me for a Coffee Klatsch this morning, Kate. We could hang out and talk about feeling “orphaned” by friends who are far too distant . . . except that the 3 of us are rather “spread out” too. Alas!

Kate Crimmins - May 9, 2022

Blogging friends are a different group. We don’t “see” each other but we interact multiple times a week. I know more about what’s going on in bloggers’ lives than some friends.

nrhatch - May 9, 2022

I agree. And when I’ve had to chance to meet with blogging friends face to face, it’s always been a treat because I don’t really feel like we’ve just met for the 1st time.

3. Rivergirl - May 9, 2022

Much as I rant about Facebook, time and long distances take their toll on friendships, especially in a military community where people move every 3 years…. so I appreciate the shallow check in and ability to keep up with those I no longer see on a regular basis.

nrhatch - May 9, 2022

With a bit of mindfulness, Facebook could be a great way to maintain a connection . . . augmented with phone, text, and face to face encounters. I’m glad it works for you.

For me, it didn’t work. Too much “noise” that didn’t seem like a good use of time. Too little in the way of “real” interaction.

Rivergirl - May 9, 2022

I’m good at filtering out noise.
😉

nrhatch - May 9, 2022

It’s a good quality to have . . .

I have the ability to filter out noise in “real” life but I didn’t on FB. I kept poling through the “trash” trying to find a few gold “nuggets” . . . usually with little success. 😀

4. joyroses13 - May 9, 2022

True friendships are priceless! I still enjoy the “Shallow” friendships, but I wouldn’t make it without the deep friendships that span the distance. My friends that are a distance away we keep more in touch by texting than FB. Yes, its still not face to face, but it can be more personal and more frequently. We do strive to see each other every few months, because yes that face to face is important.
Nothing like chatting over wine or coffee, and a good meal. Or a good walk on the beach. My one friend and I always go to the beach every year for 3 days.
But yes the days of just hanging out at each other’s houses with nothing else to think about, listening to the radio and our cassette tapes were awesome. 🙂

nrhatch - May 9, 2022

I love that you do that beach trip every year ~ knowing that you have that regular chance to hang out together for THREE DAYS is priceless! It gives you the opportunity to really connect.

I don’t text, but I do e-mail friends on a regular basis and we do family ZOOMS every Saturday night, but I’m terrible about picking up the phone to catch up.

Growing up, four or five of us (me, my sister, and a couple of friends) used to hang out almost every day. We’d toss the frisbee, or shoot pool, or play backgammon . . . while listening to tunes ~ sometimes live tunes if one of us felt like picking up my guitar.

joyroses13 - May 9, 2022

Sounds like good memories that you have of growing up. 🙂 The carefree days!

YES! The beach trips are looked forward to with anticipation as soon as the one is finished. LOL! The time always goes too fast, for we talk like non-stop. Well, we do eat, and drink wine. 🙂

Cool about your family Zoom! Finding ways to connect is what it is all about.

nrhatch - May 9, 2022

As Tom Petty would sing: “The waiting is the hardest part!”

5. Behind the Story - May 9, 2022

I still treasure those long-distance friendships I’ve maintained over the years. One example: My senior year in college, I had 4 roommates in an apt. Soon after graduation, 3 of them seemed to drop out of sight. But for the past 50 yrs., Mary and I have kept in touch on Facebook, birthday wishes, long Christmas letters, a few mid-year letters, and a couple of in-person visits. We’ve never lived in the same state. I have similar stories with high school friends, old neighbors, and old friends from the Philippines and Vanuatu.

nrhatch - May 10, 2022

That’s wonderful, Nicki. We just met up with my freshman year roommate (who also shared a lodge with me and 4 others our senior year) ~ we enjoyed Happy Hour at the Chart House with our respective husbands.

Beth lives close by now so I have my fingers crossed that we’ll have frequent get-togethers in the coming months and years.

6. granny1947 - May 9, 2022

I am blessed to still have a friend from sixty odd years ago.
We live a long way from each other but we talk every couple of weeks.
I have also made brilliant friends in our complex.
So lucky.

nrhatch - May 10, 2022

That’s wonderful, Granny. Having friends near and far means that you’re covering all the bases!

7. L. Marie - May 10, 2022

My younger brother still hangs out with friends from our old neighborhood. My childhood best friend died a year ago.
I kept up more with college and grad school friends than elementary and high school friends. Facebook has reacquainted me with some of those relationshps, yes. But we don’t tend to talk much.

nrhatch - May 10, 2022

Sorry to hear about your childhood best friend ~ sad to say good-bye. Cool about your brother. My brothers keep up with some HS chums too, but the get togethers are infrequent.

I kept up with one friend from high school (the one I hung out with every day) through college, law school, weddings, several moves, the birth of her daughters, etc. But we drifted apart after I moved to Florida since she’s still in Jersey and neither of us travel much.

Too many miles for impromptu gatherings.

8. Val Boyko - May 10, 2022

I must admit this perspective feels constrictive in my mind and body. I can’t imagine staying in the place I grew up in or being with the same friends. Life and the world always offered so much more to explore, have adventures … and many things to break free from. No regrets. 😎🙏🏼💖

nrhatch - May 11, 2022

I agree, Val. Staying in one place with the same people isn’t really the point I intended to make with this post ~ what I yearn for is the effortless way we came together every day without having to make plans to “get together for coffee” in two weeks time.

That spontaneity allowed us to share our daily lives rather than sharing stories about what we’ve been up to. It’s the relationship I have with BFF . . . but he’s the only one. All my other friendships seem more carefully curated, rather than carefree.

Val Boyko - May 11, 2022

So interesting to think on! I love the best freinds who you can drop in on and pop out with. Even better .. living with them 😎

nrhatch - May 11, 2022

Happiness is being married to your best friend. 😀

9. Debra - May 15, 2022

Thanks for this article suggestion, Nancy. I just read it! I have been thinking a lot along these lines, post pandemic. My friendships have shifted as everyone, I think, has experienced levels of change and shifting perspectives. Some of my strongest, pre-pandemic friendships, have all but dwindled, while others have strengthened tremendously. I’m still taking it all in!

nrhatch - May 15, 2022

People had to make more of an effort to connect during the pandemic. As a result, some friendships (those chosen as a priority) strengthened while others withered away due to lack of “fertilizer.” I hope that the stronger bonds are with “besties.” 😀

10. thesoulwhispersblog - June 8, 2022

I enjoyed reading your blog. ☺️

What a brilliant description of friendship – “Friendships, like ships, diverge as we chart our life course.”

nrhatch - June 8, 2022

Thanks. Glad you had a chance to stop by as you “chart your life course.”


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