Saturday, November 26, 2011

Add as friend

By George, it's been a while since I've posted something substantial!  (I mean, being tweeted by a certain French maid is significant to me, but I only published my most recent post for the sake of coming full circle to the strange quest I had previously set out upon) I naturally blame my lack of devoting time to my blog on the obscene amount of time I have had to delegate elsewhere: the last day of class is in grasp, and I'm thankfully on the denouement of my hectic academic schedule.  Only one essay left to write - only five pages, I can write that in my sleep - and one final test to study for and I'm in the clear.  Hopefully my liberation from the suffocation of the semester will bring about a reinvigorated ignition to my creative blogging process; I realize even when I have had free time lately, I've directed the entirety of my writing efforts toward my NaNoWriMo novel - which I'm pleased to report is now sitting at a total of 25 000 words, but the daunting task of matching the very same amount before next Thursday remains.  Have faith in me!

Two posts ago, I offered some sort of implicit apology for writing so many posts in recent history without cohesive thought; if one was to look back at my previous writings over the year I've had my blog (excusing the lack of style - I've only come to really love the way I write as of late, and I can hardly bring myself to read what I've previously written), they would find posts existing under an overall general theme.  Whether I wrote about religion or about my thoughts on the Christmas season (another post on the topic will be inevitable this year, I can promise that), about love or about my quirks pertaining to my strange eating habits or neurotic tendencies, one would certainly find a shift from cohesive themed writing to the fragmented style I've adopted.  Not that I dislike my "subheading" work; I find it's a great way to review any given period of time with a subjective, broad and sometimes humourous eye, but I'm sure I've lost reader interest through my essentially schizophrenic scatterbrained posts.  And thus, my wordy preface winds down to its thesis: I will be writing about one solid abstraction today, and I am striving for a return to the format of my blog's past.  (I won't eliminate the "subheading" business: I feel that format greatly suits posts more about the personal recounting of my life, and I can fuse posts like that with more formal ones to preserve a blend of personal droning and opinionated outlook - that is, after all, the purpose of a blog, no?)

I feel as though I can't advance without another preface - and I'm sure, my beautiful reader, you are probably groaning at your monitor, but keep holding on.  I can't continue without speaking to my thoughts on the danger of becoming far too personal on a blog.  I've previously spoken to my thoughts on blogging: a blog should not and should never serve as a diary because of the fundamental aspect of what makes a blog a blog - it is a public facet.  At least, that's my view: you will never find me blogging about the emotional traumas and hardships of my past because, firstly, the accessibility to a blog is far too easy and personal matters become severely inappropriate for a public forum, and secondly, as a reader myself, I roll my eyes when I read some sort of melodramatic and poorly written account of how sad you are because of whatever happened and because so-and-so did x.  To that, I say broadly: keep it private.  And thus, you will never find Haus of Matt becoming a place for me to divulge into my deepest and darkest of secrets, because I'm mature and sensible enough to realize that private thoughts stay private - or, at the very least, between yourself and another person (not an anonymous reader: a friend) with whom trust is present.

That being said, I might just become a bit of a hypocrite today.  The topic in which I'm choosing to write about, friendship, is a highly personal one, but I am making it my conscious duty to remain absolutely subjective to the theme and I will do my best to treat it as much as an abstract concept as possible.  If I become too melodramatic or what have you, you have permission to punch me in the face.

I feel like the institution of friendship has been completely deconstructed in the modern era of technology.  What used to transpire over an hour-long phone call is reduced to a rapid-fire dialogue of text messages, completely removing the sense of tone or, truly, personality from either participant; the process of befriending someone has been marginalized to the click of the "add as friend" button, yanking away the traditional building of a relationship's foundation out of human interaction.  I've encountered people who've officially marked me as a "friend" on Facebook moments after meeting me in passing for the first time; admittedly, I've done the same, but I tend to think (nowadays, at least) my practice of Facebook-friending is based on the intention to legitimately maintain a friendship with someone, and in that respect I think Facebook is fantastic because it allows for prolonged connectivity with people whom you would not have had the regular chance to do so with.  On the flip side, the same connectivity carries a rather negative connotation, because highly I doubt people with large amounts of Facebook friends give a damn about every single individual appearing on their list eight hundred people long.

This topic has stuck with me since writing about it briefly in a paper for one of my courses.  I feel like, nowadays, friendship has become a commodity: one gauges their own popularity by the amount of "friends" they have on Facebook or on other social media outlets, and in doing so, the very institution of what it means to be in a relationship with another person is completely broken down to the material.  When one clicks "add a friend" on Facebook, they are not looking to build a friendship upon which they can spend time with the other person and divulge secrets and braid each other's hair and promise to be friends forever: instead, to "add a friend" is to inflate your repertoire of friends by one.  Really, to say you have a friend is just as meaningless as saying that you have five cars and a mansion: you don't put emotional stock in your material possession (friends have, in all actuality, become material possessions), but knowing they're there and that you have them builds your confidence up.  I'd hazard a guess that those with hundreds upon hundreds of Facebook friends pride themselves on being "popular" and "well-liked," but at the end of the day, for me, I'm content with knowing that I upkeep legitimately substantial relationships with the few whose company I enjoy.  I would never say that I have a plethora of friends, but I really don't care: I'm happy that with the friendships I do have, they're meaningful, and down the line I'm sure I'll maintain contact with many of these people extending beyond seeing their most recent photo album coming to the forefront of my Facebook newsfeed for ten seconds.

To say these things and to act as if I don't partake in the economy of superficial friendship would be a blatant lie.  In the height of the Facebook craze for my generation (I mark this as high school), I pursued a rapid-fire adding of everyone I knew - regardless of if I ever had a physical conversation with them, and even looking at my friends list now I fail to recall real life interaction with some - because my friends had Facebook and they had many Facebook friends.  As I've already touched upon, I value the relatively small array of friends I have.  (when I say "small" it sounds like I have something like five friends - not the case: I mean small in comparison to Sally Facebook with 750 "friends")

I like to think that I still hold the concept of friendship up to be "sacred," for the lack of a better word.  Friendship, to me, is a relationship, first and foremost, existing in the real physical world beyond a social website on a computer screen.  A friend is a person who you enjoy spending time with; they make you laugh, they make you think, they make you evaluate yourself.  A friend is someone where boundaries don't exist - and no, I don't mean "since we're friends I can sexually harass you, no boundaries!"  (although I can think of one of my best friends who knows no boundaries whatsoever) I mean instead that inhibitions are dropped; the mask that you might wear in public disappears and you are candid, actually becoming yourself.  For a friend, you'll find yourself go out of your way to make them happy; you'll listen, regardless of what you're doing, because you know they'll return the sentiments when you need them most.  A friend does not, then, trample over you; they do not disregard the things you do for them; they do not exist in a hurricane of fury and expect for you to crawl to them only when they've deemed their own mood as "good enough" to interact.  I hope I've avoided becoming to sentimental or cliche or personal, but these things are unavoidable.

Now being an adult I've come to value the friends I have.  I know those I give a damn about will be the same people who will still be speaking with me in five years.  Interestingly, the past few weeks have set up more definitive resolutions in my mind: I've grown closer with some friends by an exponential factor, and with some, I spend my time in caution - at times, even in frustration - signalling to me that they really aren't someone I care to be around.  That's the luxury of being an adult, though: one is fully able to govern the relationships they have, given the possibility of selection when it comes to friends.  Unfortunately, I feel that things like Facebook work in the opposite, prolonging superficiality by hiding behind the notion that more Facebook friends means more popularity and therefore more happiness.  So be it.  I'm happy with my knowledge that in ten years when I have my own family, I know exactly who I'll still be talking to, inviting them and their significant others and children over for dinner parties, or what have you.

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