Saturday, January 12, 2008

friends and Friends

Today my friend Donna commented about "Capital F" friends on one of my Flickr photos. Her comment is there are "friends and there are Friends". I tend to agree, and Donna (and John) are definitely Friends. I am not sure what magic turns friends into Friends. As I compose this "Flickr is having a massage", as the message says when I try to review the pictures, so I cannot quote her directly. I do know the Friends are the ones I always feel comfortable with.

What are some of the aspects of Friends?

I think it has something to do with:
  • How long we have known each other
  • Meeting them in person
  • Seeing each other regularly
  • Sharing growth together
  • Sharing a common view of the world
But there are exceptions to each one of these:
  • I have a number of Friends I went to elementary school with, others I met in College or when I first started work after college; but at the same time I have met some Friends as little as two to four months ago. And I expect each of us has had the experience of spending an afternoon or an evening with someone new and knowing they are definitely a Friend.
  • True, most of my Friends I have met in person, can give them a hug, or watch as they laugh or cry as we talk; but I have at least one friend I have met online on Flickr and have never seen in person.
  • Seeing each other regularly may be, for me, the least common. Patty and I see Donna and John a couple of times a year; some of my closest Friends from elementary or high school I am lucky to see every few years, but they are still Friends. Others I see more regularly.
  • Now, if seeing each other regularly is not as important I am thinking that "sharing growth" together may well be one of the more important aspects. Parenting, going to church, and potography with Donna, dealing with being different in high-school, learning about God, family and Flickr. Yes sharing growth is important. Come to think of it I am not sure I can think of an exception for this one.
  • Nor can I think of an exception for "sharing a common view of the world". We are not all alike by any stretch of the imagination, but it does seem my Friends and I share at least one view of the world similar. Shared views on how important it is to love and care about our children, care about mutual friends, making pictures, or our relationship with hour "Higher Power" are but a few examples of this sharing. I don't mean we all share the same view of who will make the best political leader, or how much money a family should make, or so many of those other "hot button" issues we hear about on the news or learned about in Social Psychology, either.
So, four elements of what makes a capital "F" Friend. I bet I will find exceptions almost as soon as I post this. Do you have exceptions? Great examples? Just a comment? If so please don't hesitate to add it.


Chas said...

I suppose that I'm uncomfortable with making a distinction between 'Friends' and 'friends'; I like a word to have just one meaning; but, of course, the social networking sites (flickr included) have their own meaning for the word; so it's inevitable that we can (by implication) be saying, "You're my friend, because that's the label which flickr uses for our relationship, but I'm not sure if I'm ready yet to call you a friend, in the classical sense."

Incidentally, although we have never met, and, I guess, are never likely to, I do regard you as a real friend (or, to use your own distinction), a Friend.

philsn6games said...

For me, there's definitely a distinction. I have many friends, each reflecting an aspect or several aspects of relationship or experience as listed in Seton's post. I have only a few Friends. These are the folks I know love me without condition, to whom I can bare my soul, who would be there for me no matter what and for whom I would truly give my life. Opinions, changes in life circumstances, time, distance ... none of these can make true Friendships diminish. For these people, I am grateful beyond words.

Gary said...

My few Friends I only get to see once or twice a year. I'm not big on collecting friends either. It is a shame the term acquaintance seems to have dropped out of use with the advent of social networking, which imposes a black and white order on such things.

But I for one can most certainly vouch for finding and making Friends online ;-)