Disposable friendships…

We were friends for twenty years. Twenty years of birthdays, dinners, movies, outings, laughter, and games. And we stopped being friends over an internet meme.

We’d been friends for six years. Our kids played together, we went out for lunches, we could chat for hours. And we stopped being friends because I suggested a dog trainer before abandoning her dog.

We’d been friends for three years. Just online friends, as people say, but we messaged regularly and often. The last I heard was a message “I’m going to take my medication” then a notice that I could not respond to her conversation. She blocked me, so I heard, because I reminded her in some way of her ex. I have no idea how. The day before she’d told me I was like a sister to her. There was no warning.

I was chatting with a friend of mine a few days ago and she commented on how much friendships seem to break these days. I had to agree. My parents have friends that go back for 50/60 years. My longest friendship, one in which we actually talk more than once a year, is now fifteen.

Somehow we’ve reached a point in our society where friends have to agree about everything. And, while I agree that some lines that are deal breakers, some are just plain ridiculous. I had a friend block me once because I prefer door to door delivery over big box mail services. I refuse to believe this is a hard line ethical issue.

At some point we need to give in on the minor issues. We might not agree with religious beliefs or eating habits. We might not approve of all parenting styles. But as long as no one’s getting hurt, is that the hill we want to die on?

And, as much as I love the internet, I have to wonder how much of the disposable nature of friendship is because of the ease of online communication. You can delete someone from your life without ever seeing the hurt on their face. It’s a lot easier than saying “I don’t want to be friends with you” and dealing with the aftermath. Every friendship of mine that’s ended has been through social media. Cold, clean, swift, and remorseless.

I went through my block list a few days ago and unblocked about thirty people, none of whom I know, all of whom had irritated me on Facebook at some point. Chances are I’ll never even see them again. The next step is unblocking the two people I do know. I have no idea if I’ll see them online or not, we don’t (as far as I know) have mutual friends. But it’s a start.

I don’t have any answers but, what I do know, is life’s too short to end friendships over trivial matters. Friendship is too important for that.

P and Jeremy

P and Emma sharing a quiet conversation.

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8 thoughts on “Disposable friendships…

  1. Friends, I believe are friends when you can disagree, and have them tell you the truth, as they see it, we don’t have to always agree, or do we have to always be “nice” to each other. In the course of many years we will all disagree, become angry, upset, and maybe even stop talking for a while, but we do come around, as true friends, after we cool off, rethink the topic, and maybe even apologize because we admit we were wrong. But friends, all true friends do this. As I do with my sister’s, we argue, yell, and disagree, not because I don’t like them, but because I do care about them, and if I can’t be myself, and tell you how I feel, whether you agree, or not, I can’t be your friend….the best friends are the ones you can be yourself with, family included, and it is amazing how often you get more negative comments, and judgement from your family, than your friends, we can’t all agree, and be “phony” just to please someone else, it is tiring.
    Some times you just have to point things out to someone you know very well, tell them what you observe, and let them know it could be damaging, or negative for them to continue.
    If we lose friends, and family because we tell the truth, as we see it, then……maybe we are better off.
    There is nothing better than being able to say exactly what you want to without worry of negative consequences, generally when I am able to really express myself to someone freely, and feel safe with them I swear, I yell, I may even cry a bit, because it is truly rare to find someone we can actually tell our deepest feelings to, and not see raised eyebrows, and other body language that is telling you….quiet, danger zone. Often we have to pay therapist’s for this opportunity. Then they will ask you if you feel like hurting yourself? No, but sometimes I feel like hurting others….I feel angry, depression turned outward.
    Sometimes I do say things to my family/friends, and get negative responses, it had to be said regardless.
    What about speaking your truth at work, and having “friends” on the job as well? It is difficult to make/have friends at work, between the work culture, work policies, and competition for advancement, it just makes it all more difficult, and you never truly feel safe talking to most of your co-workers, no wonder we are stressed out.
    Life is just a game of being careful, cautious and “phony” just to live in the day to day world now. Many of us want to speak out about the crap we see going on in our daily lives, at work, in our community, in the news…..it is no wonder I want to yell, and I tear up (cry) when I can finally shout it out. Believe me, I think that is what makes people “go nuts”. Blocked feelings, unable to say what you feel, nobody listening, I’ve worked in mental health as nurse, and listened to many express the same, perhaps if we learn to listen, and allow others to express how they feel, we would have less problems in the world, less crime, violence, hate, and fear.
    Let it out, say what has to be said, express your views, but be informed, and open-minded about other opinions, we don’t have to all agree, I don’t think anything is agreed upon without first some debate/conflict. Do you think the Constitution of the United States was decided without some heated discussion, difference of opinion? I think not.
    So, “Jump, shout, let it all out, these are the things I’m talking about, come on, I’m talking to you.” I am sorry, I don’t remember the composer of song, but it is what comes to mind.

  2. I completely agree with this. Although social media can help people stay connected it also makes it so incredibly easy to delete people from our lives. With one click, someone can be gone for good. And it just breeds our own egos to think that people are dispensable to us in this kind of way, which can make it harder to make new friendships. Thank you for posting this.

    • This girl I was friends with for 3 years cut me off after I suggested to a mutual friend (my friend who later became her friend) that it wouldn’t hurt to apply to some jobs. Who knew that would end my friendship with her. We were good pen pals and I we mailed eachother. She sent me some amazing art over the years. Anyways, she immediately cut me off because of my comment I made to him. It wasn’t even directed at her but apparently she took it seriously because it reminded her of her personal life and her druggie parents/ghetto life in poverty. Parents and older generations who did not have to deal with social media are the ones with long lasting friendships. And personally, I think this concept is due to not relying so heavily on social media.

  3. Last week I lost a three year friendship. It was a face to face friendship, full of everything you spoke of…parties, kids, trips, and then I began to transition from male to female. She told me that she was not sure she would like ‘Anna’ and that she didn’t want ‘Michael’ to leave. Despite reassurances, it seemed that the self-fulfilling prophecy was in place. I was the one who ended it. It’s bitter-sweet.

  4. About 7 years ago I ended my longest friendship (of 10 years). It had become a toxic relationship, with her becoming abusive and me being desperate and clingy. I blocked her on Facebook but remained Facebook friends with her kids and her sisters. I recently went back and unblocked her… just to show that I wasn’t holding onto my anger. Sometimes I miss having such a strong friendship. I’ve never had a friendship like that since.

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