I figured a post about friendship was in order as it’s this months NaBloPoMo theme, and also because in the days of Twitter, Friday has become synonymous with friendship and making new friends, with the Follow Friday movement. But as I sit here writing, it occurs to me that the concept of friendship has evolved, even within my relatively short lifetime, and now represents a whole new set of parameters.
When I was younger, my friends were the people I knew from school, from Brownies, or when I was a bit older, from hanging around our usual (and locally, quite infamous) bench. A friend was an actual, tangible human being who you’d met in real life. You had some close friends who you could call on to comfort you if you’d been dumped, or been given a dodgy haircut, you had some who were always there for a night out, and you had others who were in your group, not necessarily that close to you, more of an acquaintance. I’ve had friendships which have broken down, some of which I miss, many of which I’ve realised that I’m better off without.
Then came the internet. Now we describe people as friends if we communicate with them on a forum, a game, a chatroom, or a social networking site. These are people we’ve never met, may well be wary of giving your home address to, and certainly wouldn’t call on in an emergency. So, these days, friend means ‘a person I have communicated with through one medium or another’. And I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it for me.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m not as good a friend as I could be. A combination of laziness, lack of time and several fairly irrational social phobias have led to me neglecting several friendships that are very important to me. I’m rubbish at remembering to phone, and the longer I leave it, the higher the anxiety about not phoning builds. I’m even worse at actually getting my arse onto a bus or train, mainly because I have no faith in public transport and have Final Destination-esque visions of a car ploughing into the side of the bus, or a serious derailment caused by children placing pound-coins on the tracks (see, I told you they were irrational…)
I have to say, since I’ve started blogging, I feel as though I have become a part of a community, and whilst I’m still a little uneasy about the term ‘Mummy Blogger’, there is a sense of camaraderie between us. Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve read blogs of other women who’ve made me feel as though I am doing something right, or more appropriately, I’m not doing everything wrong. We all have the same doubts and fears, the same stresses and the same experiences of joy every time our child does something which blows us away. So maybe I’m being a bit harsh on the gamers, the forum writers and chat room regulars. Friendship isn’t just about a physical presence and someone you’d trust with your spare key, it’s about a commonality, a spark of recognition of yourself or your life in another person, be that through a computer or face-to-face. And in these times of hostility and community breakdown, we all need all the friends we can get.
So I urge you all, make it your mission to try to connect with someone new. Comment on a new blog, say good morning to your neighbour or talk to the woman who stands by herself at the school in the mornings as groups of other mums drop their kids off and hang around for a chinwag. It may lead to nothing, it may just be a person you’ll follow on Twitter before unfollowing the after a month because of the banality of their Tweets. But you might, just maybe, find a person who will enrich your life, make you see things from a new point of view and who will, in time, become a firm friend.