Friendship needs coffee

Credit: christopher cornelius,

Social media has increased the usage of the word friend while simultaneously eroding its meaning.

Like so many others, I bought into the lie that more is better.

I went on “accept friend request” binges. Girl I barely remember from junior high? Friend! Guy I worked with three jobs ago? Friend!

Soon, messages from my real friends were lost in the minutia and musings of folks I didn’t really care about.

Motivated by a high-minded desire to protect the integrity of the word friend, and a practical need to reclaim my evenings, I culled folks from my Facebook feed. It was harsh; I was sad to see some people go. They were witty classmates, acquaintances with amusing photos, and former colleagues with inspiring musings on life. But, they weren’t friends.

I only kept people on my list of friends if I could answer “yes” to at least two of the following questions:
→ Are we related?
→ Do we see each other more than once a week?
→ When you post a video/link, do I watch/read it?
→ Have I invited you to my home for dinner or a party?
→ If you invited me to dinner or a party, would I want to go?
→ Have I seen you since my high school graduation somewhere other than a reunion?
→ If I travelled to your city would I want to get together?
→ Would I attend your funeral?

Now, if I see a post about how hard it is to mother three kids with an arm in a sling, it is from someone I care enough about to offer to run an errand or sweep her floors. If I see a post about a premature birth, it is from someone I care enough about to send a care package to the hospital. If I see a post about how all-nighters are not for the over-thirty crowd, it is from someone I care enough about to surprise with a coffee delivery.

Facebook emphasizes having friends, but not necessarily being friendly. The number of friends you have is posted for all to see, but there is nothing to indicate the health of those friendships.

You’ve got to take friendship offline. Healthy friendships require verbs: hugging, laughing, cooking, sweeping. Listening.

Kristina Cerise is (in alphabetical order) a baker, knitter, mother, outdoor enthusiast, urban planner, wife, and writer living in Seattle. She believes favours are the fertilizer of friendship and gives and receives them regularly.

Issue 34

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 34, Summer 2014, The Life Offline issue.

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Issue 34, Summer 2014

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