Right now I can break my life into two halves. One half being a youth, and one half being an adult. A few of the experiences that I have had lately have caused me to think about friendship, and how my ideas about friendship have changed in my life.

When I was young, friendship usually meant fun. My friends were the people that I had fun with. The people I played ball with (any ball), the people I would watch movies with, the people I would have over to play Risk and order pizza with, these were my friends. They were also people that had an unconditional acceptance of me. Even if I did or said something dumb or embarrassing, they would stand by me. If they laughed you could tell it was the 'laugh with' kind. There were also times, in awkward social situations (which for me is pretty much any social situation) my friends were people that I could stand by. It is amazing how having somebody to stand by makes such a difference.

There was an intensity to these friendships of my youth. And even though I don't keep touch with many of them as well as I should, I will always think of them with much fondness. I had quite a group of very good friends.

'When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. ' (1 Cor. 13:11)
As an adult life gets pretty busy. Most of every day is filled with responsibilities of some kind. Not much time for fun. I have my wife and my children, and there is a level of friendship in these relationships. But those relationships are of a different sort of which I am speaking, aren't they? Certainly one should be a friend with one's spouse. But is it not healthy to have friendships in addition to this relationship?

It seems the older I get the less friendships I have. And in comparison to the friendships of my youth, the bar has been significantly lowered. Not that the quality of the people are lower, but the quality of the friendship seems lower. Not the intensity of youth. Not the fun. I have co-workers now. Ward members. Neighbors. Sure we are friendly, but are we friends? Really friends? I find myself wanting to protect the word friend. I don't really give it freely. I have been spoiled with high expectations from my youth.

I love to golf. Most of the time I golf alone. I'm busy, everyone is. I'm a little old for 'can Joe come out and play'? I watch sports, often on TV. Usually alone. I'm not shedding tears - I'm not that emotional. It's just the way it is. It's more practical.

That brings me to the bloggernacle. Are we friends? Are we having fun together, doing something we enjoy. Do we stand by each other? Do we laugh 'with'. Are there people I can stand by when I feel awkward? Sometimes I think the 'friendships' I have here are about as real - maybe more - than the friendships I currently have in real life. Sometimes I think these 'friendships' are just one step away from having imaginary friends like a small child might have.

This is not a 'HELP!' This is a 'what do ya think?'


At 4/13/2006, Blogger Wade said...

Uh oh, it's a good thing you live in Michigan; I think you'd find a shadow on the golf course if you lived in southern California. Golf rules!

...the bar has been significantly lowered

Well, that makes me feel good. :)

No, I think you're right, as we "grow-up" life often makes our relationships outside of family too tenuous. Life gets in the way of too many things.

At 4/13/2006, Anonymous Mogget said...

Yes, I do think I have one, or maybe two, friends on MA. I also know that there's one or two I'd stand by if/when they did something odd. And there are more,outside the MA.

I don't spend as much time with friends as I did when I was a kid because "life" does intrude. But the time I do spend with them is spent far more profitably. I think it's "life" that taught me how to do that.

At 4/13/2006, Blogger C Jones said...

Well Eric, I've never thought of you as imaginary before :->

I also agree that friendships change as we get older. We have less time,and most of our emotional energy seems to be consumed by our family relationships. And it's harder to make friends again each time as we go through the multiple moves required by our jobs or school, etc.

I think our needs change, too. When my kids were little, I needed a certain kind of social outlet with other women that I really don't need anhymore.

So the friends that have endured may be people that I don't spend much time with anymore, but if we do get together, it's like no time has passed at all. So I guess you could say these relationships are based less on the things we do together (although a good golf friend is a treasure :>) and more based on what? conversation? a meeting of the minds?

As far as the bloggernacle goes, at first it seemed really strange to see all these people having conversations about anything and everything with those who they had never met. I'm pretty private, and some of it makes me uncomfortable.

That brings me to the bloggernacle. Are we friends? Are we having fun together, doing something we enjoy. Do we stand by each other? Do we laugh 'with'. Are there people I can stand by when I feel awkward?

Once I could see that people group together with like-minded others here just like in real-life, and that I could pick and choose which blogs to read and which people to talk to, I think it is starting to be fun. So I am now leaning toward a "yes" to these questions.

At 4/13/2006, Anonymous J. Stapley said...

I think this is one of the greatest downfalls of modernity. We don't connect with people. I think that this is one of the greatest struggles to face the church. How can we build zion if we can't be friends?

I'm fortunate to be home teaching a family that I love. I consider the whole family friends and the time flies when we get together.

As far as the blogs go, I do have some real friendships. I have met most in person and see a few quite regularly.

At 4/13/2006, Blogger Eric Nielson said...

Wade. I would love to go golfing with you sometime. Maybe a BofJ golf outing?

Mogget Thanks for your thoughts.

C Good. I'm glad you are having fun here. I think it may take more time to feel like you fit in in this world.

J. I agree with this being a 'sign of the times' in a way. I envy your ability to see some of the regulars on the MA. I often wonder what people are really like.

At 4/14/2006, Blogger Wade said...


Yes, I'm hoping a BoJ golf outing is not out of the question in the future (Ryan is a golfer as well).

At 4/15/2006, Blogger annegb said...

I consider the people on the bloggernacle my friends, although I get them mixed up all the time.

I'm having fun.

So, yeah, to answer your question.

Remember on Mary Tyler Moore where her friend played by Cloris Leachman was bragging about her friendship with Mary and told her New York friends if she called, Mary would drop everything and come? And she called Mary to prove it and Mary did, but by that time, she'd forgotten she called?

That's how I am with my friends. Both people at different times.

At 4/18/2006, Anonymous Naiah Earhart said...

On the blogs, there's people I know of, people I read, and yeah, there's what I call 'blogfriends.' I mean, we spend fairly significant amounts of time delving into our respective presentations of our thoughts. So, yeah, given how well we know certain aspects of each other, it *is* a friendship of sorts. It can even lead to hanging out offline, and such.

At 4/18/2006, Blogger Pris said...

I view the friendships here as sort of a protracted one-night stand. It's fun and enjoyable while it lasts, but when it's over it's over. That might change if I knew anybody here IRL, but I don't.

But I just picked up golf, so that's something. I've done it twice now and shot +27 on a 3-par nine hole course. Man, it's a great game, though.

At 4/18/2006, Blogger Eric Nielson said...

annegb: I don't remember that episode, but I can imagine it.

Naiah: I agree that there is a level of real friendship. I envy those who live close enough to 'hang out'.

Pris: Thanks for stopping by. I am afraid you're right about the one-night-stand level of interaction. Congratulations on the golf score. I got my first birdie of the summer Saturday, finished +10 on nine holes. Not bad for this early in the season.


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