What is a friend?

Twenty…no, ten…no, five years ago, this was an easy question to answer.  Answers might range from, “Someone with whom you share common interests/associations,” to “Someone who has stuck with you for years and years, though all the ups & downs of life.”  Somebody might consider a friend someone who you’ve developed a personal bond with, and whose companionship you enjoy.  Generally, these answers are all getting at the same thing.

Thing is, these days, cultural elements such as social networking (*ahem*Facebook*ahem*) have, for lack of a better word, cheapened the idea of what a “friend” is.  Even if you aren’t participating in such phenomena (that would be you, Mom), the culture seems to be shifting the idea of what it really means to be a friend.  At least, that seems the case from the perspective of an active Facebook-er.

You see, in “Online Friend World,” a “friend” can be anyone from a current coworker to a former coworker to a current student to a former student to a current student to a distant relative to someone you met on a backpacking trip once to someone you met at a party once…and so forth.   No real history or substantial relationship necessary.

Lately, I’ve become impressed with the concept of a Lifelong Friend.  Along with the obvious joy of getting to reunite with old lifelong friends, I love getting to meet new lifelong friends…

This happens when someone enters your life, perhaps another LF gets engaged, perhaps they have a baby.  Either way, meeting this person, you get the impression that you’ll be growing old alongside this person.  And you can’t wait to let the friendship develop…

Perhaps my grand finale to this rant would be a call to guard one’s friendships from becoming cheapened by the instant, shallow communication formats which the internet provides (alongside it’s many relational benefits, that is).  Here’s to fewer meaningless Facebook friends, and to more Lifelong Friends!