Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What kind of friend are you?

I don't ask that in an antagonistic, angry way, I am asking in an honest endeavor to think about friendship, what it means to be a friend, and what kind of friend I am to people and visa versa.

Facebook and other social networking sites have added a new level of complexity to this I think. I got onto it somewhat reluctantly, and now check it at least once a day to see what my "friends" are doing. Some of these people are truly what I consider to be friends. People I see or talk to or interact with if not daily, at least on a weekly basis who I really LIKE. Some of them are people I know through work who I don't interact with regularly, but I have come to know and like outside of work. Others are people I knew from high school and college. Many of these people I have not interacted with since the day we graduated. Are they friends? They WERE. A few were people I counted among my best friends at certain times of my life. I have found my year books and have found notes written in them that immediately snap me back to that moment in biology class when Steve gave me the nickname Blanche, or to the cafeteria at lunch when I literally spent every day eating lunch with a guy I could not now recognize if I ran him over in the parking lot.

Having found some of these people on Facebook, I sort of miss them. I wish that we were still close. But do I? Do I really know these people now? I see things they write on FB, I see pictures that are posted from high school or their current life and see comments made by other people and wonder would we get along now? Would we have anything in common? I would like to think so, but who knows.

It is somewhat a moot point in that these people are spread all over the world, and the likelihood of us really spending quality time is pretty minimal. But I do miss the people I knew at the time we were friends.

And it got me thinking about what kind of friend I am. I didn't manage to stay in contact with these people after we parted ways, although I would argue now it would be easier, what with FB and email and blogs and Twitter which I REFUSE to participate in. Who has THAT kind of time?

Now I have a pretty busy life in many ways, between working full time and being a mom and a wife. I have always always always been someone who at the end of the day went home and sort of shut down. If I spend all day talking to people, problem solving for others, making the world a safe place for financial aid applicants every day, I have a need to re-energize and recuperate. And for me that means not interacting with more people. It is not my typical response at the end of a day, after Cooper has been fed and bathed and put to bed, to sit down and think "OK, who can I call" and then get on the horn. I will check in with FB, or read the blogs I like, but I don't reach out. Even on weekends I often lean toward going to the ground and laying low, being quiet inside and outside.

What this means is I don't socialize a lot. If I do it is with one or two people at a time, more if the moms in the neighborhood plan something as a group. But am I, then, not a great friend? If I am not reaching out, checking in, making contact on a regular basis, does this make me a lame friend? I would argue that most people who really know me know I am there if needed. But is that enough? Shouldn't a friend be present even when not needed? To just be a friend? To have coffee with, shop with, laugh and cry with?

I would note that many of my friends don't reach out to me either, so it is not all me. Or is it? I might be having a small crisis of self confidence. But friendship like all relationships, is work. And it is work that should be done equally in an ideal situation by all parties.

So what kind of friend are you? HOW are you a friend?


Laura said...

Oh dear I hope my two day lapse in phone dialing skills didn't bring this about! I'm a bad friend...bad bad bad...but in my defense...you were the 2nd person I called!

In case you are wondering, I find you to be a rockin' friend!

Oz said...

I'm a crappy Facebook friend. You've probably already figured that out. And I'm with you - Twitter is too much. I'm barely keeping up with blogs as it is.

I have been trying to do a better job at reaching out to local friends, from hosting a neighborhood playdate to just meeting up for lunch or a walk. I'm so-so and remembering to reach out, and way too good at noticing when someone doesn't reach out to me (or call me back promptly). I wish I could spend more time on the first and less time thinking about the second. I'm more of a small group/one-on-one friend than a big group/party friend.

Chip said...

Ah, perhaps take a step back and ask how much energy do I have to invest in ANYTHING? Then remove energy spent being Mom, Wife, Professional Woman and what's left? Where do you want to spent that? What return do you get?

FB is amusing but really... so superficial as to be pointless. If I contact some one through it and have a real relationship, then it serves a purpose. Otherwise, it's akin to showing up to the 20 yr reunion, crying and going all loony about what these people have done. They didn't keep in contact with me either.

Chip said...


The collective unconscious speaks!!