Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Divisive connections

Despite being past midnight and fighting the fatigue inherent in the celebrating of July 4th, I have thoughts running around my head that need out. On the way back from fireworks I had a conversation with a friend about the modern nature of friendships and connections. This is a topic I've thought about more frequently as of late.

The last few weeks I've been plagued with these feelings of dissatisfaction regarding the modern face of socialization. Last year I remember someone commenting about how we've be come so distant to those around us in favor of other connections. The example this person used was when class got out. Amongst the rush to get to the next class, many pull out their phones and connect to someone not present rather than interact with those around them. I thought this was an interesting point but didn't mull over it too much.

Last year was also the year I broke down and signed on to facebook. While intrigued by the concept of facebook, I became increasingly more dissatisfied as my number of friends crept higher and higher. Who were these people? People would add me as their friend, and yet somehow we would never communicate over facebook. Who doesn't communicate with their friends? As my "friends" increased, my activity on facebook decreased. I became overwhelmed with the deluge of information in my newsfeed, information about people I was really not emotionally invested in.

While technology has helped us connect as a society, it has also weakened the bonds of friendship. We've spread ourselves too thin as we try to please every one of our 256 friends on facebook. Personal investments such as visits or letters are quickly being replaced with thoughtless wall posts and pokes. With our new greatly expanded social circles, we find it difficult to devote much attention and concern into any one individual. We just do not have enough to go around. Neither do we expect it as much from our friends, for we now have a far greater number of sources from which to draw. It has never been easier to be a "friend" than it is now.

While the number of friends we have has increased, the numerator of personal attention we are capable of has not. We can still only do and care so much. I think of Bilbo's description of feeling as though he is like butter spread too thinly over a slice of bread. Perhaps we've spread ourselves too thin.

In an attempt to strengthen the meaning of friendship, I resolve to invest my self more into fewer venues. I deleted 138 of my 256 friends on facebook. Not because of any personal feelings, but precisely because of a lack of personal feelings lately directed towards them. If I am not putting in the time and effort into a friendship through communication, how can I deserve the title of friend?

While I think technology has done much to connect the world, I worry that in connecting, we've neglected our responsibility as friends. Our portfolios are so diverse that we're suffering in our comprehension of the concepts of taking risks, sacrificing, and displaying loyalty.

To my friends, thank you for our friendship. I hope that by investing myself more, I will be able to see the returns in a fulfilling friendship built on trust, concern, and service. Here's to the prospect of closer-knit friendships.