The Value of Friendship in the Age of Re-Invention

A few weeks ago a friend of mine, Terri Wise (also a classmate) wrote a post on her Facebook wall about the value of friendship and what struck me was the phrase ‘reading or scanning.’ How many of us open the Facebook app in our iPhones and skim up and down the posts without ever taking the time to click ‘continue reading?’ I know I did this. But it’s a very cursory examination. It kind of puffs us up.

We think, ‘look at all the stuff that flows into my newsfeed, because I am cool.”

And we brush past the guy talking about college football, and scan over fitness buff Don Moss, who now owns his own Crossfit Gym, and we get frustrated with all the crap that just comes in from nowhere, like junk mail. People we said were our friends at one time took time and energy and invested something of themselves in words on a screen and we just brush past it.

Maybe if these were letters writ long hand, as we did when we were kids, we would take time… Really? No. Yes. I don’t know. It seems no one does that any more. I would like to think that if I got a letter, I would read it. But that isn’t the point.

The point is that what we really value, we spend our time and our money on. And if we just scroll past without really reading and responding in some way, are we valuing our friends or are we just puffing ourselves up with air and not substance. And that’s just the people on Facebook.

Do we do this with the people we see at work, at the store, in our neighborhoods?

I’m an introvert, so it’s not always easy for me engage on a personal level. But we all need to do that. We need to connect with each other. Not only in a cursory way, but also in a meaningful way. Pick some people who matter and put energy, effort and time into them. And the rest pick one a day or three a week put time into them anyway. Some ordinary person you pass in the hallways at work or stand across from at the gas pump…. Take a moment to find out how their day was and empathise. Maybe it will pay off for you down the road. Maybe you just made that other person’s day. Maybe you gave them that last nudge of encouragement they needed to get over or around the obstacle they’re facing. Or maybe we’re just keeping the karma wheel turning, casting our bread on the water, or planting (sewing) the seeds we have to plant.

I’m trying this with Facebook. It’s a lot easier than taking time out at work, or standing in the summer heat or winter cold at the gas station. But I’m going to try in those places, too. Isn’t this what we’re all meant to do – show compassion and understanding to each other?  The poet John Donne wrote that no man is island. When we voluntarily chose to strengthen each other, we become part of an archipelago, like the Philippines or Indonesia. When we voluntarily choose to be part of each other’s lives we become a community. And the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.

And one more thing… as we approach winter holidays: Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanza, etc., remember your waitstaff at your favorite restaurants. They all make most of their living from tips. Generous tips will help them buy their favorite person a gift for the holiday they celebrate.

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The opinions expressed in my writings are my own, unless otherwise cited or attributed, and not necessarily those of my employers.

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