So what IS a friend anyway?


Back in the days before some crazy man invented electricity (it was invented by man right?), it was a lot easier to tell who your friends were. Way back when a friend was someone who shared the same stomping ground, wore the same skins, and did unmentionables in the same unmentionable spot. Anyone else wandering in was persona non-grata and a potential meal for the local gods.  As society got more complicated, the rules changed a little, but it was still basically the same concept. You wear similar clothes to me, speak my language, and drink at the same watering hole you can basically be labeled friend. Of course the TRUE friends were the ones we saw every day, interacted with in a positive way, and generally made life mutually better.

As man did its best to pretend they were rabbits, they started growing in numbers and spreading way out. This of course started blurring the definitions of who was friend and who was not. Close and in sight still MOST LIKELY friend, but now with people a wandering around from who knows where there could be doubt. And TRUE friends might go far away, out of sight and possibly mind, yet still remain a friend.

Mankind continued to do its manic wild-fire spread of the lands, and at the same time his propensity for selfishness grew too.  A few of the more outspoken decided that they knew better than everyone else how everyone should live and behave, and did there best to convince others their way was right, frequently by force. The difference that so clearly defined friend from foe started getting blurrier and blurrier, until we often actually had to think for ourselves to determine who our friends actually were. Of course for the lazy and scared among us, there were always those loud outspoken ones who would gladly decide for us.

Soon friend was often defined by who we were not attempting to kill.

Electricity and industrialization stepped into the scene ,and suddenly the big wide world became a lot smaller. It was more and more possible to interact regularly with people far, far away, yet never actually meet them in person. Before friend was determined by physical interaction. Suddenly it was possible to find “friends” who one never actually met in person. So the question arises … are they really friends? Or is physical proximity required?

Then the next wildfire spread even more quickly in the form of technology. Now not only can we interact with people thousands of miles away, we can do it real-time. We can hear them and even see them; as if they were right there in a room with us. And with modern options for transportation actually meeting them physically is not such a far-fetched dream.  So once again we lose the ability to easily define friends. Is it possible for your best friend to be someone from the other side of the world that you have never actually met in person? Is it conceivable that one can develop the profoundest of relationships purely electronically, without ever connecting physically? Is physical proximity the ultimate defining characteristic of friendship? These are the questions we seem to face in the modern social networking world. And everyone seems to have their own answers, ranging from complete distrust and paranoia to complete willingness and openness. It is an intriguing dilemma.

My personal experience is that some of the people I am the closest to, with whom I have the deepest connections … I have yet to meet in person. Hmmmm.

How do YOU define a friend?