I’ve spent the last few years delving into my past, resurrecting old friendships. Facebook made it easy & tempting.Very few of those have panned out. Either time had simply moved on and we no longer had anything in common, or the person just wanted to be a picture on my Facebook page and nothing else, which I found kind of irritating. I’m not so sure how to think of someone who acts like s/he wants to know me but doesn’t want any type of contact. To me, you might as well just watch television. You can tune in to any sitcom and there they will be, your friends, the ones who have never met you and never will; who have never called you, don’t call you now and will never even know your number. You don’t have to think of them, call them, remember their birthdays, send them Christmas cards, nothing. It’s fantastic. If you forget to tune in & miss an episode, they will never know and never care. Friendships for the new millennium.
All this separating of people who “are” my friends from those who “used to be”: I guess it’s my way of re-confirming to myself what it means to be a friend and to not be swayed by the Facebook definition, which is to say, “Friend” equals a person you don’t know, don’t see, don’t talk to, have nothing in common with, but who “likes” your posts occasionally, & there is not a day I’m not shocked & saddened by the idea that there are people who actually believe that that is what constitutes friendship. The language hasn’t caught up with the concept; i.e., we still call those people friends, but they aren’t really. I don’t know what they are exactly, but I know that if you can’t have a meal with someone because, say, they live too far away, there have to at least be periodic newsy emails, an IM once in a while, a phone call. Otherwise, what is it, really? What are those relationships, who are those people? The answer may have just come to me: They are memories, at least as far as old friends are concerned, and a person is really a friend or a memory, one or the other. They can’t be both. Had (as usual) to learn that the hard way.
But this is huge. It really answers something for me. I used to feel a little grab of anxiety whenever I would describe someone as a friend who I knew was really not. Had been, but wasn’t now. The chill of self-betrayal. Now that’s gone. I have the correct word for the concept, something I’ve always been really big on, even if I don’t have the people themselves. The language just took awhile to come up with a word for whatever became of the people I knew and loved.