Del Williams


The Changing Face of Friendship

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It's 2017 and 68 percent of Americans own a smartphone according to a Pew study. We see the effects of this when people everywhere seem to have their heads down in their phone no matter where they are. The funniest are people who go out with friends and families, yet spend their time looking at their phones.

Technology is great, but considering the average person has less than ten friends, it's also a distraction. Of course every generation has it's own thing which sends them away from their friends and families ranging from newspapers to video games. What makes the cellphone so different is because it's almost a right hand in the current age. You can use it for everything from ordering your groceries to watching TV. It's not just for calls anymore.

In "I Had a Friend" Orison Swett Marden, the founder of Success Magazine, makes a strong case that even back in 1912 (when the book was published)  people stopped nurturing their friendships. He says the main culprit of the time was being a dollar chaser. In fact, he goes on to say that people wouldn't cultivate friendships unless they could "help" them in some way.

Doesn't that sound familiar? If you look at any social media site or read some of the blog posts or listen to  conversations, there is a tendency to ignore those who who can't help the bottom line. It's as if  social media, as an example, has become a worldwide trade show, and if you are not buying then you are not worth the time or attention.

"We have developed colossal money glands in our brain for secreting dollars; and in the process, we have lost that which is valuable -- we have commercialized our friendships."

There isn't a day when some Internet famous person isn't raving about their "fans." The funny thing is, the conversation is usually centered around what the fans are buying from them or the content they are reading of theirs. "Friends" are usually someone in the same gig that they met on the way.
Technology has changed the definition of friendship. Many people have never met in person, or just shared a dinner at a conference. There is no cultivation of the friendship outside of a business aspect. What they can do for each other to increase their bank accounts.

"We cultivate those who can push us, give us a pull, who can boost us into fortune or fame..To choose our friends with an eye to their commercial value to us is to proclaim ourselves unworthy of the friendship of any noble soul, incapable of winning real friends" 

It would be foolish to call it trivial, since it's actually troubling. Troubling in the sense that, in the 100 years since the book was written, it's still chasing the dollar as the culprit of  humanity not being able to form and keep friendships. It may have changed how it is being done, but the result is still the same. Technology is not the enemy as much as we are. We have chosen to forgo the real and the lasting for the temporary  and the vain. We have commercialized friendships instead of cultivating them.

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