What Does The Word “Friend” Even Mean Anymore?

Molly McAleer wrote a stellar post on her Tumblr recently about the Kardashian divorce. I won’t rehash those points here because they’re not what caught my eye the most. What did strike a chord with me was when McaAleer made a comment on the definition of a friend:

I am such a fan of Rob Delaney and consider him to be a pal (I say “pal” because I have a hard time calling anyone but Ed my “friend” because I’m not entirely sure what that word even means any more as it’s been bastardized and twisted so much in the second half of my life…

This loose definition of friendship is something I’ve definitely encountered as I’ve graduated and entered the workplace. On paper, it would seem like my social life has expanded in the past year. I know more people in New York City than I ever have before. I G-chat and send emails with people every day. I’ll hang out with someone I genuinely adore for about a month and we’ll get drunk together, maybe go to a show, and maybe even go to each other’s houses. And then, unprompted, it will just stop. We’ll disappear from each other’s lives, only to make cameo appearances on one another’s Twitter feed. Plans will be made to hang out and maybe it’ll happen or maybe it won’t. The one thing that I notice about all of this though that makes me a bit uneasy is that no one questions the disappearance. It’s somehow implicitly understood that you’ll have these moments with people, only to watch them dissipate. It waxes and wanes. The person you went to the show with doesn’t necessarily see you in the daytime. You can’t really count on them for much and it goes both ways. The funny thing is that when you see each other, you’ll bare your soul. You’ll discuss job disappointments, love life, fears. It’s as if you’re bonded. And then, just like that, you’ll leave.

Maybe it’s having a career, maybe it’s living in New York, or maybe it’s just called networking. All I know is that when you get older, you’re cluttered with these static friendships and it becomes harder to find that daytime friend, to find that person you can actually depend on.

What does a friend even mean these days? With social networking sites and all of our technological gadgets, it’s been made clear that our BFF—the thing we see the most —is an object, not a person. The more connected we become, the more disconnected we become from each other. This is an argument that we’ve heard forever but damn it if it’s not true. We collect friendships like they’re Pogs. We collect them until there’s no space left for us to breathe. The question is, which Pog will be worth something one day? Which Pogs aren’t ones we use to just adorn our wall?

It’s hard to find quality friendships in your mid-twenties. Chances are people have already found the meat of their social life and now they’re just searching for dressing. It is what it is, I guess. It still annoys me though when someone’s name gets brought up and, on instinct, I say, “Oh, she/he’s a friend of mine!” And then I start to think, “Wait, no they’re not. We sometimes email each other and I see them out at parties. They have no idea what I do during the day, who my family is, where I come from. They aren’t my friend!” As Molly McAleer put it, they’re my “pal”, which still somehow feels like a generous description. Another Person I Sort Of Know In The Nighttime sounds more accurate. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – h.koppdelaney

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