Blog: Where did friendship go?

in English 26.2.2016 14:05 | Päivämies-verkkolehti
I recently read about research which showed that only very few of the people who are your “friends” in the social media are genuinely interested in you and your life. Regardless of whether you have ten, a hundred, or a thousand such friends, only a few would really care and be ready to help if you had problems.
There are many kinds of friendship, long-term and short-term, enduring and fragile. Friendships may grow out of a shared life situation or interest, studies, work, or some other connecting factor. Friendships between families may be motivated by kinship ties, children, or the personal relations of one of the spouses. People holding similar views of life find it easier to become friends, but not even that guarantees a genuine friendship.

Friendships are shaped and re-shaped in the course of life. There are instances of life-long friendship, while some close friendship relations may gradually deteriorate into a nodded greeting on the street, a routine exchange of Christmas cards, or a passive follower status in the social media. There are friends who used to be a significant source of joy, support, and help, but with whom we do not seem to have very much in common anymore. Where did the friendship go?

Everyday life is not always clear sailing. We experience setbacks and disappointments. Our own life may begin to seem dull and humble compared to the presumably successful lives of our friends. The second part of the Golden Rule instructs us to relate to our neighbors in the right way: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” People who are not content with their own lot in life or feel disappointed and lacking in self-esteem may find it difficult to love themselves and even less their neighbors. They may feel constantly despondent: ”Our life is so dull and ordinary, and I am such a loser.”

Sometimes, though more rarely, life may start rolling uphill so fast that the old friends remain standing by the wayside. A new and broader road may open up for us. Days are filled with new prospects, goals, people. Our old life appears plain, small, and downright shabby. Our old friendships may seem unrewarding, and we may no longer have enough time or interest to associate with those friends.

Deceit, evil words, offensive behavior, and other inappropriate conduct have a destructive effect on friendship. Friendships may also cool off without any particular disagreement or disappointment. People simply lose interest in the matters they used to have in common. We feel that there is a difference in chemistry, that we live in a different everyday reality, or that our thoughts, hopes, and attitudes are different. Sometimes one of the two friends begins to opt out of the relationship. If only we could then discuss together the possible causes of estrangement.
 
I remember a dear friend who has already passed away. When one of us was leaving, he would often ask:
– There won’t remain any bad feelings between us, one way or the other?

With this simple question he made it easy to discuss and settle possible disagreements, even if one of us had only unintentionally offended the other or been bothered by something that the other person had said or done.

Real friendship grows out of mutual respect and trust. This growth is fertilized by openness, sincerity, and forgiveness rather than mere shared interests, similar life situations, or identical lifestyles. Good friendships should be cherished and nurtured. They will carry us over the rough patches and windy stretches of the journey. They will level the road.
 
Pekka Lassila
Translation: S-L.L.
The blog post was published in online Päivämies on 14 Feb. 2016.

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