What is it that makes someone a friend? The Bible says that, “A friend sticks closer than a brother.” So is your best friend a better person than your sibling?
At what point in a relationship does a person cross the line from being merely an acquaintance and earning the endearing title of “friend”?
In 2010 - when the majority of our lives are housed in a virtual, non-touchable world - the opportunity to create friendships is endless. MySpace and Facebook give us the chance to become “friends” with millions of people at the simple touch of a button. Twitter allows us to boost our egos as people decide to follow our daily thoughts and actions. LinkedIn shows the business connections that we can create by merely sending an email. Skype and other video chat technology let users see anyone – from a colleague to a complete stranger – basically face to face.
But are these relationships true? Are they deep, meaningful, beneficial interactions? Do they only enlarge our repertoire of friends and connections, or do they also hinder our actual communication skills? Can we still hold decent conversations over the phone? And I mean the real, voice-to-voice phone – not texting or mobile web.
Because it’s so easy to access these friendships, it’s also very easy to deny or terminate them. On a whim, anyone can hit the delete button, to seemingly end a relationship – or at least they think so. But a relationship that is two-way, meaningful, planned….won’t end that easily.
So what is this doing to us? What kind of generation are we becoming that we can dispose of friends and yet believe that everything is fine? People look at relationships as something to use for themselves. A means of satisfying their own desires - rather than to help, encourage and inspire another person.
The capabilities to have visual and audio interactions through the Internet have many advantages. Long-distance friendships can remain intact, efficient business communication can occur and new connections can be made. Personally, the majority of people that I work with I have never met. I hope to one day meet them – but until then, hours spent in front of my laptop with facebook, skype, AIM and similar applications – will continue. This is to say that using the Internet to create and maintain friendships is not bad. But to turn friendships on and off with the click of a button…is quite immature.
And what about the issue of immediacy? Yes, having an instant response is excellent. But what ever happened to waiting for a letter in the mail, or playing phone tag?
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” So should we only develop friendships with those we want to emulate? What about the poor, needy, and sick? What about the drug addict on the corner? I’m not questioning scripture…however, I am questioning my own motives. Yes, we need to reach out to people who are not like us. But when does hanging out with the neighborhood drunk that curses like a sailor become less of a ministry and more of a downfall?
This little post didn’t really solve anything….it probably only posed more questions. However, I have found that questioning things leads to resolutions. Slowly, but surely.
Overall, I encourage to question your own relationships. I propose a challenge – for both myself and you: This week, month, year – enter into a friendship that in no way benefits you. One that could only help another. A friendship that, in the long run, will teach you to give of yourself freely – expecting nothing in return.