Old concept of ‘friends’ existed before Facebook

getimage (16)One of the final episodes of hit TV series depicts teen character Kevin Arnold as an old man, hunched over a dusty card table with old friends – mates he’s had forever.

None of them are dead (yet) and while they’re still living, there’s poker to play.

That’s the beauty of its messages never age. I watched this episode two decades ago and again last night. There’s been a lot of human traffic in and out of my life between then and now.

And I often wonder if there’s a magic formula binding best friends and close connections together forever, or if friendships bloom and fade based purely on circumstance.

My gran had friends with whom she stayed in touch for over 60 years; not just by phone or letter, but via Groot Trek to and from each other’s homes across country. People made an effort – geography wasn’t the only guarantor of friendship.

It should be easier today, but it’s not – I know too many people. Facebook lists them as my friends, but there are over 800 of them. Some I haven’t actually met in person. Still others, never had a drink with. There are a few from a very long time ago, when neither of us were friendly in the first place; and if you were to ask why we’re connected on Facebook, we wouldn’t know. It’s just embarrassing really – someone has to cut the cord, but nice girls never do.

Just recently, a “Tier 1” friend – the type blogger Tim Urban describes as “bloody important” – and I were in a conundrum. There were misunderstandings, text messages read hastily or wrongly and a case of the classic “you’re utterly wrong and I’m completely right”.

Thing is, when you’re a woman over 30, you’ve come so far down the road from basic fist-fighting and throwing your toys that you tend to do things diplomatically.

It’s even worse if you’re very intelligent, as my Tier 1 and I are, because “using your words” becomes vocab-focused and confabulatory. Emotion tangles with intellect and nobody wins.

So, at some point, I decided to make notes, boil things down to brass tacks and take with me an agenda for mature, adult discussion. When we sat down to have coffee, I was ready to state my case, fuelled by the necessity of re-settling a very important Tier 1 friendship that is very precious to me.

But I didn’t state my case. We might as well have been playing poker – we had fun instead. And never said anything that I thought I’d wanted to say. We just talked nonsense.

And that’s the thing about good friends, I think. If you walk away from an encounter with them refreshed, energised and refuelled, what else need be said? Like a thirsty road-tripper pulling into the only service station between here and nowhere, you’re just happy to be there.


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