No friendship is an accident
Maybe there’s one thing people are good at: making new friends. All it takes these days is one click to accept a request button on Facebook or follow back. Tops, keep liking their posts.
The only thing they struggle with – following the elders. There is little commitment to meet, follow up to return the call, be there in silence or shout.
Personally, I hunt friendships with the same speed as I hunt love. Lovers, anyway, are much more celebrated in our society. There is a marriage to begin and a divorce to end. Friendships go unrecognized and fade into nothingness when distance creeps in, physically or otherwise.
During a recent trip to my hometown, I met my friends. We have all grown in shape and size. A realization difficult to accept his old friends with graying hair. Adolescence was a party. College passed in the blink of an eye.
These guys have been witnesses all along. The goofy boy I was then – my first crush, the heartbreak that followed (apparently the girl I was crushing on, crushing on my best friend). Then the following romances – the joy of the first kiss! And coming back to record it with my best friend, which was even better. The guys kiss and tell.
First of all – going to college together, pooling the money to make any plan come to life. Fantasize lifelong plans to have a restaurant together and retire to a PS3 game in the backyard. Life was meant to be all fun and games until careers dictated otherwise.
Cut to real life. We gathered at a local cafe for a confab. Drinks joined us. The friend asked for more ice cream. Guess he needed more to break one. Caught up where we last left. The conversations revolved around politics and the crisis. Each of us had something to say, each of us wanted to sound smart.
Then each of us returned to our digital spouses: our phones. Silly rants about food and heinous prices. Small discussion on the latest gadgets. Then dive back into our phones. Invoice splitting. Posing for a selfie, post #friendsforlife. Sayonara.
None of us talked about his privacy, no breach of personal security. Everyone just stayed true to their looks. This selfie culture seems to have turned us into narcissists who care more about managing our public relations than being present with each other.
What has changed a few years and a few kilos later? My cousin once told me, no one is a friend anymore, everyone is just a “contact”. It occurred to me now – exactly what she meant when she said it.
In another episode, a music fan friend posted a story on his Insta;
I’m going about my business, I’m fine/Besides, what would I say if I had you on the phone?/Same old story, not much to say/Hearts are breaking everyday
These are the lyrics of the song “you were made for me” by Jewel.
I envy his musical tastes. Realizing all is not well with him, I phoned a mutual insurance company which provides me with my daily gossip. That’s when I found out the guy was going through a divorce. I felt a change in social interaction. You don’t make a call when things go wrong – just post a story on social media. Welcome to the digital age.
The ride of life
I remember struggling to get a phone call with a friend for a short term loan. I took a detour to a bank in the opposite direction from my friend. You have to show muscle in modern friendships, which leads to hesitation before asking for a favor – what did they take from us?
All this makes me think: what is the currency of friendship? Whatever happens to a friend in need, he really is a friend.
I think we have ourselves to blame. Friends and friendship take a back seat in the race of life. Work costs us dearly, children consume time and we also overwhelm our friendships. While some of us are lucky enough to replace old friends with new ones, it’s often the comfort and collective history with old friends that fills your heart with joy.
Friendships are consumed in spoonfuls and not in drops. Uncalculated, smooth and always in full supply. No fear of judgment, and knowing that when all else falls apart, the comfort cushion will come from a friend only.
Ashish Dewani is an avid traveler and writer. Twitter: @a5hush
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