Friendship in a Modern Age

Recently I have been asking myself a lot about friendship.

I myself do not have any friends. It may sound rather far-fetched and somewhat pitiful, but it is the truth. (My wife and children excluded) I have not one person in the world that I would really be able to label as ‘a friend’ at least not somebody that I know in a physical sense. Sure I had friends in school at things, but over the years you drift apart. It’s a story as old as time, and it seems that these friends of yesteryear only come out of the woodwork when they have an idea they want to run past me. Some money-making scheme. (and yes I am talking about one ‘friend’ in particular here because the others are indeed all long gone.)

I get on with people, I am a people person, but it seems that this only stretches to the realm of professionalism. I am not comfortable in social circles, a crowd of more than three and I feel out-of-place and just want to leave. Over the years this friendless-ness (sometimes I like to make up words) bothered me tremendously, as I am sure it should, yet just the other day I asked myself…do I really care?

The answer was no. Not really. Sure I would like to have friends, people I can chat with and hang around with in the weekends, but if I am honest I simply don’t have time for all of those things. I have a full-time job and 90 minutes of travel a day added to the 8.5 hours I trapped behind my un-fulfilling desk, factor in eating breakfast and dinner that is half a day gone. Then there are my three children, I want to spend as much time with them as possible as I am gone for such a large part of the day, then once they are in bed there is housework, showers and then finally time for writing. and maybe just maybe a little bit of TV and just relaxing on the sofa with my wife. My weekdays are pretty much gone.

Weekends see shopping trips, days out with the kids and football training and I am sure in the future once the kids are older various matches, classes and all manner of hobbies (which I can’t wait for) This again leaves me with little time to divide between my wife and my writing, and lets face it, we all want to be full-time writers and that doesn’t happen by writing 5 minutes a day it just isn’t possible, we must be dedicated.

Enter social media. Once a writer (particularly one of the Indie persuasion) has a book published and available for general sale, social media becomes a big player in their career. From spreading a name, sales pitches, reviews and just generally keeping an eye on other writers you admire and dare I say fear (for their talents always appear much greater than your own) a large portion of time is now devoted to Social interaction.

Within the realms of social media I (much like every writer) have a good network of ‘friends’ (or buddies, followers, call them what you will it all boils down to the same thing) people we have never (in many cases) met, and for me 99% of whom live in not just different countries to me but different continents. 

A friend by any other name  just because you don’t interact face to face, it doesn’t mean that you cannot truly be friends with people right? I have several people online who know more about me as a person than my afore-mentioned ‘high-school’ friends ever did, yet there is always a strange sense of detachment floating around in the back of ones mind when it comes to ‘social media’ friends. Whether it is a lack of real commitment – any excuse is good and useable when you meet virtually – or maybe the time zones mean your interactions are often separated by hours rather than breaths and mouthfuls of coffee.

Is there a distinction between being friends in ‘real’ life and in the virtual world, in today’s society the line of distinction between the two is blurred almost beyond the point of recognition so why can’t the same be said for friendship?

Or is this just me making up excuses for myself for my lack of real life interaction with people? Am I lying to myself by saying I don’t need friends I can physically reach out and connect with (just for the sake of clarity, I refer to social media friends and not childhood friends located in other areas.)

What is your ratio of real friends vs virtual friends like, and how many people have made the transition from one to the other?

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