Don’t unfriend me!
Word meanings change. A “tool” used to be a shovel or a hammer. Now it means an unintelligent person who doesn’t know he’s being taken advantage of. “Thongs?” That was what we used to call “flip flops.” Now, I would raise an eyebrow if I told someone I wanted to “slip on my thongs.”
Some words mean something completely opposite of what they once met. “Bad” is good. “Sick” is …. well, “sick” is good, too. I guess we need more “good” words.
But of all the words that have undergone a cultural transformation, few have been as altered… or diminished… as the word, “friend.”
Used to be, a “friend,” was an intimate; a person with whom you shared a close, emotional attachment; a confidante; a boon companion.
Now, a “friend” is anyone included on your long list of virtual acquaintances on social media. I THINK Facebook started the whole “friend” thing; not sure. Maybe Myspace beat them to it. (And I confess colossal ignorance since I don’t DO Facebook; I just refuse.) But as I understand it, to become a “friend” with someone on FB, you make a request of them… and then sit, hat in hand, like the pimply sophomore, hoping his would-be prom date returns his call.
If that person deigns to reply… by clicking a button… you have a new “friend.” If not, I guess you just languish in friendlessness.
Perhaps worst of all, I would imagine, is getting “unfriended.” How horrible! Someone decides that you are no longer worthy to be on their digital list of buddies… and they unclick you. And it is not clear to me whether you even KNOW you’ve been unfriended. How embarrassing! At least when I was in high school, you could tell which groups of kids where standing together… and which groups you were not welcome to approach. It was brutal… but it was honest and clear.
I know… I’m a complete Neanderthal. But may I just say how stupid I think this is? Is friendship REALLY decided by the click of a mouse? And how meaningful is it if, with another click, we are relegated to the relationship sidelines?
At a time when the word is bandied about freely… and means less and less… we are in desperate need of friendships. This weekend, I want to talk about the people who are in your corner… or who ought to be. I hope you’ll come; I hope I didn’t just make you mad enough to “unfriend me.” But good news is… I won’t even know it happened!
Photo by dole777 on Unsplash