just what is a friend?

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long while, and as the guest post planned for this week has been delayed, I’ll take the opportunity to open a discussion I’ve long been wanting to have. Just what is a friend?

I think the connotation of “friendship” has changed dramatically over the past eight years — since the birth of facebook in 2004. Facebook turned the word ‘friend’ into a verb. It was always a noun, or could be turned into an adjective by making it ‘friendly.’

But all of a sudden … the word ‘friend’ became a verb as well, and now we’re ‘friending’ people, and being ‘friended’ by others. What does all that mean? What is the true meaning of friendship today?

just what is friendship?

I’ve thought long and hard about this, as many of my close friends are not online at all. And some of them only use e-mail sparingly. That forces me to pick up the phone if I want to talk to them, and get in my car (or on a plane!) if I want to see them.

Those friendships take more effort to maintain as it’s not a simple click of a button to send out a FB update or tweet (via Twitter.) Yet, they are important to me and I try very hard to go the extra mile to make sure I keep in touch with all on an equal basis.

Online “friends” real and otherwise will know more quickly what’s happening in my life as I’m on virtually every social media platform and respond quickly to (most) e-mails.

Being a Gemini, communication comes easily to me, and I’m far less protective about my privacy than maybe I should be. I am a connector, and love to put people in touch with one another. That’s what’s so great about social media. We can connect ourselves with others at the click of a button. We don’t have to make time for a telephone call unless we choose to. We don’t have to take time to meet for lunch or a drink unless it’s mutually convenient.

I admit to indulging in those pleasures far less frequently than I would like. I never seem to have enough time for anything anymore. But I do try and make time for those who are important to me in the real world, not just that world that exists on my screen.

What really pleases me is when friendships that originate online turn into real, in-person friendships, where we make a special effort to meet and engage with that individual on a personal and very real basis.

I look forward to attending conferences where I meet fellow members of The Writers Union of Canada and the Professional Writers Association of Canada at their annual conferences.

And taking every opportunity to spend a few days with friends whenever and wherever we can arrange it. Whenever we get together, there will be fine wine, great food, amazing chocolate, and good times to fuel the friendship fire and keep it burning strong.

pat-and-doreen

This pic of me and Pat was taken in July, 2009. We have been friends since 1973.

I’m grateful to everyone who has been joining the conversations on this blog. (If you haven’t been reading and subscribing to the comments, you’re missing out on a whole lot of wit and wisdom from members of our tribe!)

I now welcome you to share your thoughts on the changing meaning and dimensions of friendship in the 21st century.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

78 Responses

  1. Linda Strange says:

    I’m not surprised to find Doreen writing about friendship. I think she has more friends, in the real old-fashioned sense of the word, than anyone I know.
    That’s because she values her friendships and knows how to be a genuine friend.
    Over the years our life situations bring changes that can alter the course of our relationships with one another. If you’re wise, you will find ways of accepting the changes, and maintaining your bonds with the people in your life who offer you honesty, compassion and shared learning .

    • WizardOfWords
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      says:

      Linda, your comment brought tears to my eyes, because it is YOU, my friend, who has been such a good example for me to follow. You are the epitome of a good friend and I shall always cherish the way you have supported and encouraged me thru all the trials and tribulations of our lives. Many thanks.

  2. Irene
    Twitter:
    says:

    Oh, I loved your post so much!! I think we do get lazy.

    Sometimes I hear the phone ring and say to myself, “Darn, who can that be?” We are all so busy that it’s hard to be interrupted, especially if you work at home. But when a close friend is on the other end of the line, I could kick myself for not being the one who placed the call. Thanks for your reminder!

    A 40-year friendship is very special indeed!

    Your friend, Irene

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks so much, Irene. Your comments mean much to me.

      And for those who don’t know Irene Levine, she has written a very well-regarded book on friendship which you can find via her friendship blog at thefriendshipblog.com.

  3. Susan Cooper
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    says:

    An interesting topic, this. I actually wrote about this very thing awhile back (http://findingourwaynow.com/2011/09/of-flowers-friends.html)

    The word friend has changed so much as you have mentioned. I have some very close friends, friends who I am able to stay connected with on other levels from the SM (Social Media). The word acquaintance comes more to mind when I think of all the people I am coming in contact with in this new world of SM communication. From these connections (or acquaintances) I have made some really good friends. Who are always there to support and help when the call goes out and I give it freely in return. So to break it down I have long term close friend who I have know for umpteen years, there are work friends who I have maintained a relationship with through various means and there are my SM friend who are very special to me as I work hard to grow my blog.

    • WizardOfWords
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      says:

      Right on, Susan! There are indeed different kinds/levels of friendship that we earn and acquire throughout our lifetimes.

      One thing that has amused me over my lifetime is thinking that all my friends should instantly love one another. That, of course, is an insane assumption, as each of my friends is like a special flower with its own unique bloom. We can all grow in the same garden, but do not necessarily require the same care and conditions to grow and prosper.

      Glad to have met you online, and am pleased to see our friendship blossoming.

  4. First of all, let me say that is a fantastic photo of you and Pat, like two green peas in a pod! I hope to meet her someday. Secondly, you, my dear, are an extrovert and so it works for you to nurture friendships over SM because you have a “more the merrier” approach. Introverts, on the other hand, never truly feel comfortable with internet connections because they prefer to have a handful of close, individual friends with whom they share a history and drawing any attention to themselves feels unnatural. Their Facebook “friends”, with some exceptions, remain acquaintances, as Susan said. Maybe we could call them aqua-friends!

    Question: Of all your friends, what’s the introvert/extrovert ratio?

    • WizardOfWords
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      says:

      Excellent question, my dear friend, Virginia!

      I confess to having a fair number of extroverts as friends, but surprisingly, I seem to get on very well with introverts (including you!) So I’d say we have a 60% extrovert to 40% introvert ratio in my circle of friends.

      Thanks for joining the conversation, for raising an interesting question, and for being a great friend and travelling companion.

  5. Friendships do take time and effort, but it’s worth it. It doesn’t have to be all the time either. We have friends we don’t see or hear from very much, but because we keep in touch occasionally, time falls away when we do get together. Those are true friendships. Social Media does make keeping in touch easier, but it’s not enough,and not the same as calls and visits. I always think that if something is important you MAKE time for it.

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for the comment, Christine.

      You raise an excellent point. I firmly believe that friendships can take an ebb and flow approach. I always say friendship is like the tide. Sometimes the tide comes in with a certain friend, and you are extremely close with him/her for awhile. Then … the tide may go out and you may not see or hear from them for awhile, yet the bond of friendship remains firmly in tact until the ebb and flow reverses.

      But if lack of effort is a factor on either side, the bond of friendship may not be strong enough to endure the absence or silence. We do indeed need to MAKE that effort.

  6. Kay Lorraine says:

    I think that a real friend is someone you can count on to go out of their way for you with no payback. And someone that you would be willing, maybe even happy, to go out of your way for without payback.

    I have “friends” who take and take, without ever any concept of giving back. After a while, they are no longer worth the effort and I just let them float away. But I also have people all over the world that I would walk over fire for. Some of these friendships have lasted 30 years or more.

    My husband and I have a very close friend that I “met” online in a LInkedIn group about 3 years ago. We have become very close and have visited each other from Hawaii to England to Thailand. You never know where your next “friend” will come from!

    Kay in Hawaii

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      You’re so right, Kay! Social media has opened up the world to us, and with luck, we connect with the right people and create enduring friendships.

      I, too, have met a great gal online from the world of chocolate. She lives in London, but we managed to hook up in Toronto in 2010 and plan to do so again next month. I am so glad that the internet has made the world a smaller place.

      Thanks for joining us here on the blog.

  7. A.K.Andrew
    Twitter:
    says:

    A very apt post Doreen, and you really hit the nail on the head about how it’s easy to let go the opportunities for having lunch , or answer the phone call. Sometimes I feel I’m living life through a tiny screen, so it’s very important to maintain the real life friend ships. They do require work, but they always repay you and are there for you. It’s the gift of giving and receiving. I think the same can be true of online friends, and while it’s harder to make ‘real’ connections it is possible – like the ‘unvirtual’ they take effort. And for both, it takes a while for a new friend to become an old friend, but there’s nothing like them. A shared history is something to really treasure.

    • WizardOfWords
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      says:

      So true, A.K.

      We had a roast for my husband (who is a real jokester) a few years ago and I invited his close friends and family to come up and give a mini speech on how Reg has embarrassed them over the years — giving each of them a chance to get back at him. And wow! Years and years of friendships were turned into amazing and entertaining stories that we cherish to this day.

      Friendship definitely makes MY world go round!
      Thanks for joining the conversation. I always enjoy your insights.

  8. Linda
    Twitter:
    says:

    You raise good points about the term, friendship. I tend to be rather slow to build true “friendships.” For me, it’s an organic process that evolves over time, like your relationship with Pat. So I figure I have only a handful of friends. And truly, I only have the time and energy to nurture a handful of those types of relationships.

    The other types of “friendships” are what I once would have termed aquaintances. But what has evolved since email and FB, is the richness of those other relationships. Somehow, it seems that we share more and more spontaneously through cyber-space than we ever have before. I’ve been quite stunned during the past year or two, to realize that I’ve come to cherish some of my online “friends” as much as I do my old stable of “real” friends. And you are so right about the frequency of communication with online friends. It is so much easier, demands so little of us, and is always available, even in the wee hours of the night.

    Great post, Doreen.

    • WizardOfWords
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      says:

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation, Linda! I’m glad the post has touched you, and I’m thrilled at the discussion that is developing here.

      I think part of the reason that our online friendships have become so important to us is that we can share each step of our journey so easily online. And in turn, those efforts can easily be recognized and supported by our online friends as you have done here by sharing your thoughts with us.

  9. Kathe says:

    As you know, Doreen, I’m a flaming extrovert. And yet I work and sometimes live alone. I’m a Libra, so I’m always seeking balance. I have various circles of friends – I picture it as being something like the Olympic symbol, with a series of rings, some of which intersect.

    My inner circle is fairly small (you know who you are!), and people sometimes get to “graduate” from acquaintance to friend to close friend. It’s all quite fluid. But I love the fact that I’m in touch with people from every period of my life, and that we click right back in when we see or write each other again no matter how long it’s been.. It tickles me pink that I’m still in touch (not literally, ahem) with all the men who’ve been important in my life (not that many), including my ex-husband. But my women friends are the ones who sustain me.

    You have to know how to be a friend to have friends. Amazing how many people fail to realize that…

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Wonderful observation, Kathe! Thanks so much for joining the discussion.

      I, too, am very fortunate to be in touch with people from all aspects and all stages of my life. (You and I have so many things in common.) And on my 50th birthday, I handpicked 50 people from various aspects of my life to be in attendance at my party. It was one of the most amazing days of my life. A kind of validation of sorts. But I needed that, as turning 50 was just something I wasn’t looking forward to doing. That extension of friendship and support from those close to me was just what I needed to get over that hump. (It was nice that Pat even came all the way from Vancouver for the event.) May our wonderful circle of friends share many more special times together.

  10. Diane Gumprich says:

    Doreen, I read your article and enjoyed it. To me, friendship is like the chocolate we all so enjoy.

    There is the occasional foray into the bitter dark of 99% and intense, the ease of the 70%, the indulgence of 50% sweet and easy on the palate, to the light treat of white chocolate (not really chocolate, but lots of fun!)

    All facets that, as I’ve grown older, I find are necessary in my life. From the depths and richness of long time friendships that are seasoned with time and experience and rare to find and the most rewarding, to the excitement of meeting someone new and wondering – where could this go? Will I like them, will they like me?

    In the end, each friendship is as unique and rewarding as the new entity that each pairing of friends creates every time they meet.

    Clichés? – perhaps, but then, I’m old friends with clichés.
    Diane

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Diane, I’m so glad you’ve taken part in this discussion, as it was you who was part of the inspiration for it.

      I remember several years ago you telling me that you didn’t want to hook up with me on e-mail because you didn’t want that to replace the phonecalls. I assured you that wouldn’t happen, so we’ve been fortunate to communicate regularly through e-mail and occasionally by phone and in person. A perfect blend to keep the friendship sweet and easy. (I’m assuming we’re generally in the 50-70% cocoa range of your analogy above.)

      Thanks for dropping into the blog. I hope you’ll stop by regularly, now that you’ve dipped your toes into the world of social media.

  11. Hi Doreen from PWAC.
    I react like Irene sometimes when the phone rings although there is the telemarket factor involved. But Irene’s comments and your post Doreen are very timely as I’m trying to get back to friends via phone – some of whom aren’t very technologically inclined or prefer phone calls – it’s a time challenge. For work I prefer email contact and LinkedIn and my blog so here I use the phone very little. I don’t do Facebook (sacrilegious) because of time and privacy issues.

    One thing I’ve noticed as a difference that Doreen didn’t mention. In my teens, twenties and even thirties I was a big pen pal writer using regular mail. Now, any “penpalling’ is done by email. I also use Classmates to contact old school friends as well as the “old school network” and 411.

    So, to me friendship is keeping close to the friends that matter in your life, by whatever means works for both of you.

    Cheers.

    Too Chatty Sharon
    Sharon Crawford recently posted…Only Child on blogging and ABC award nomineesMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Lovely to hear from you, Sharon! Thanks so much for dropping into the blog.

      You know, I’ve never done the pen pal thing. I used to write the occasional letter to people I know abroad, but I’ve never been much of a letter writer.

      I think that’s why I love social media so much. It can be quick and painless and then on to the next!

      Hope to hear from you again soon, and see you next month at MagNet in TO?

  12. Hi Doreen:

    Yes, I’ll be going to MagNet – see you then.

    Cheers.

    Sharon
    Sharon Crawford recently posted…Only Child on blogging and ABC award nomineesMy Profile

  13. Eli says:

    Here’s a test of Facebook friendship – drop an IM box to someone on your friends list. If they respond, you’ve got a friend. If they don’t, then why are they in your friends corral, anyway? Make room for someone who you actually converse with.
    Eli recently posted…Molly BarkerMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Eli and thanks for joining the conversation.

      I’m assuming that by “IM” you mean the chat feature on FB? I must confess to NOT liking the chat feature. I usually just blast into FB for a few minutes to quickly look at updates (I’m not a big fan of FB) and then I’m gone. When someone sends me a chat message I feel like I have to reply and then wait for their reply. It interferes with my intentions to get in & out of FB as quickly as possible.

      However, if someone sends me an e-mail or a personal message on FB, I will almost always respond. Thanks for sharing your take on the topic.

  14. Pat Bodman says:

    Finally found a quick minute to do this post!!! Hi Linda!!!Virginia I definitely hope that we can meet someday. Doreen and I have been friends for almost 40 years (I knew it has been for awhile but when you mentioned that number it was an aha moment) and I think it is because we are both extroverts and we are both kind of direct and opinionated. Wouldn’t you say Doreen?? lol
    I liked Virginia’s comments – “Introverts, on the other hand, never truly feel comfortable with internet connections because they prefer to have a handful of close, individual friends with whom they share a history and drawing any attention to themselves feels unnatural.” I feel I am also an Introvert and feel the same way you described. I am very close to maybe a dozen people – friends and family and only want to see them in person, be a Chatty Cathy on the phone or do Skype. I am not big on emails unless it is work related. So I am very excited about Doreen’s visit. Just hope that the weather co-operates!!! She loves the sun and I live in Raincouver!!! Look forward to spending time having great conversations, enjoying great food, wine and of course chocolate!!!!

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Yay, Pat! It’s nice to see you here on the blog. And it will be so much nicer to see you in person. Practice your hug. So far … nobody beats the hugs of Rusti Lehay from AB. She sends me squealing every time she gives me one of those roaming fingers down the back hugs. I think she missed her calling (should have been a masseuse instead of a writer/poet.) See you soon!

  15. bindhurani says:

    I don’t go to Facebook that often. Once a week or or two times a week, I will check the updates and look on the friends update. For the last couple of years, I am not posting my family photos in my FB page. My family has a closed group on FB. We share pictures there.
    I lost many of my friends because they don’t have Facebook or twitter. I still miss them.
    bindhurani recently posted…My writing, My insecuritiesMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
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      says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Bindhurani. That’s a great idea to have a closed group for “private” things on FB (am using that term loosely, as we all know that nothing on FB is truly private.

  16. Amanda Lerougetel says:

    I love my friends and appreciate my acquaintances. FB has enabled me to stay in quotidian touch with friends far and near in a way that email, phone and f2f contact does not permit with many of them. On FB, status updates, short comments in response to status updates, photos and replies keep alive a connection that, if only more committed and considered methods existed, would fall into silence and distance — that is simply the nature of our world and lives today. I like what FB can do for us – and I use it minimally to get what I want from it. No more. As for other methods, I like to make collages and hand-write cards to friends, then send them via snail mail. I get joy from doing, but precious little reciprocation. I guess personal paper-based mail is really old-fashioned!

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Great to hear from you, Amanda!

      Wow! Those collages sound awesome! Your inner circle is fortunate to be on the receiving end of such a treasured piece of mail. You’re right. In today’s world, snail mail is a true luxury and some that is handmade makes it all the more special.

  17. Hi Doreen!

    Several of your comments deeply resonate. I am a Gemini as well, and I LOVE to connect people. In fact, I introduced my husband’s brother to my colleague/friend . They’ve now been married for more than forty years.

    Several years ago, I brought together three of my friends who are also Geminis. We meet every so often over a meal and have great conversations that can lead to laughter or tears. Since we are Geminis with two personalities each, it takes us forever to decide the next date and venue. That process itself can send us into hysterical laughter.

    The oddest thing happened this week, although it shouldn’t surprise me. My long time dear friend Barbara, a Gemini who is part of our foursome, asked me if I know a woman she was introduced to this past Saturday evening at a birthday celebration in her friends’ home. What are the chances of connection in Toronto, a city of millions of residents? Well, her intuition (a Gemini trait) was right …the guest she met had been my best friend in high school! Two close friends from entirly different circumstances in my life met decades later!

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      So great to hear from you, Nellie!

      Might we be sharing a Gemini birthday at the TWUC conference? I hope we’ll have a chance to meet in Vancouver. I look to you as a mentor.

      Very cool about the connection with your two friends. Life is full of many of those special moments if we look for them. Cheers!

  18. LGesin says:

    Whenever I read a post like this, I worry that it’s going to be another diatribe about how Facebook has killed human communication. I appreciated your balanced analysis and personal experience. Friends are valuable no matter how we initially meet them.

    Every so often I think about deleting my Facebook account. I go on it a few times a week but don’t communicate with that many people primarily through that platform. Just as I’m about to hit that delete button, though, I remember the few people who live far away who I keep up with primarily through FB even if it’s just once in awhile – a favorite aunt, a friend from high school, etc.

    For me, social media is just another tool in the friendship box. I joined Twitter to keep in touch with friends during the school day – and let’s face it, I don’t interact with many adults during the school day so those brief tweets keep me saner than you think! While I have a lot of followers I admit to interacting with maybe a core group of 100 over the course of a week. The rest are more informational than relational, but I can’t imagine not keeping in contact with that group on a daily basis!

    Ravelry, a much more narrowly focused social media site, is the other platform I find encourages friendships but perhaps knitters are just friendly people 🙂

  19. Sherryl Perry
    Twitter:
    says:

    What a wonderfully refreshing post Doreen. Not a day goes by that I don’t reach out to one of my online friends. When I went from the corporate world to working for myself, I felt very alone Missing that human contact and not being able to bounce ideas off someone nearly drove me nuts at first. Being able to network online and connect with other people is a life-saver for me.
    Sherryl Perry recently posted…Do you Brand Yourself, Your Company, or Your Product on Social Media Sites?My Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sherryl.

      Yes, I think when we’re busy working at home, we definitely turn to online friendships as they’re easy to maintain. They take less effort. But I think it’s important to remind ourselves about the people in our lives who are not online and would probably love to hear from us. As Amanda said, it’s all about finding the balance.

  20. Therapist says:

    Your post got me really thinking. Defining friendship is not something I do every day, so I thank you for getting me to think. Many of my friends are not on social media sites and keeping in touch with them becomes so much more difficult in this age of technology. Instead I end up communicating more with people or are not as close, but are more available. In this age and time when there are at least 5 online ways to reach someone and a phone call is considered intrusive by most, how do you keep in touch?

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks very much for your comment, ‘Therapist’, and sorry for my delayed response. I missed your comment amongst the others that rolled in over the weekend.

      I’m glad the post got you thinking. I think you hit the nail on the head when you say we turn to those who are more “readily available.” I know that is absolutely true in my own personal dealings. It’s so much easier to just send an e-mail or post an update (on our blogs, listservs, FB, G+, etc.) to communicate with those we know. But it takes so much more of an effort to pick up that phone.

      Although I generally enjoy phonecalls with friends, I usually have to prompt (almost force myself) to actually pick up that phone, sit down and make time for that call. Yet I almost always enjoy the calls and am glad I made the effort. But it’s always an effort to fit it into our busy days.

      As Bob Dylan sang many years ago, “The times they are a changing …” and that so truly applies to our inter-personal communications.

  21. Suzanne Boles
    Twitter:
    says:

    So many responses I couldn’t read through them all so I grazed them.

    I am the introvert/extrovert personality. I become numb in a crowd of people I don’t know. I’m extroverted with a smaller group of close friends.

    But if it wasn’t for the Internet I never would have this many friends. I have met many via listserves, but I get to meet some in person after the online connection (especially our PWAC tribe, right?). And I wouldn’t be connected to PWAC as much as I am if it wasn’t for the listserves.

    Also, I have reconnected with people I haven’t seen in over 40 years thanks to social media. They may not be meaningful relationships – hitting “Like” and posting the odd comment – but it’s more of a conversation than I would have had without that connection.

    And I marvel every day at how many people I’ve met because of social media. It’s mind boggling.

    So, short answer, I’m going to vote for technology. The introvert in me is telling me to do this.

    But face-to-face is really great. And I look forward to seeing you in June my extroverted friend!

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Suzanne.

      Yes. I admit to being an extrovert and being energized by people (except those of a “negative” nature, whom I find very draining.

      Yes, your intro/extro split (and Virginia is quite the same) make me think you’d get on very well with Pat, who describes herself as the same.

      I concur that social media is amazing for connecting us with people we’d otherwise be estranged from. Just today, I reconnected with a friend I hadn’t spoken to for years, but I saw her name in the news, and found her via Linked In. Rock on. See you soon!

  22. satinka
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Pat and Doreen!
    Gosh you both look so wonderful and happy! I have a “friend” letter included in my upcoming book in which someone I thought was a friend wrote me a “goodbye” letter because I left the religion. What a friend she turned out to be! Happily, I have made many new friends in my new life who have turned out to be true friends. I am happy to say that I have since learned a few things about true vs. conditional friends. 🙂

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Great to hear from you, Satinka!

      Yes, it’s really unfortunate that not all friendships are genuine. I think we pretty quickly realize which friends are genuine and which are opportunistic or conditional. And that can certainly be painful.

      But when we are blessed by real and true friendships, it makes our world such a wonderful place. Thanks for being in mine.

  23. Wendy Peck says:

    Interesting discussion, Doreen, and one that could go in so many directions.

    For me, the Web opened a whole new way to have friends. I need a lot of solitary time, so a few very close friends, and a close family fill my social time. I also love people. The Web has allowed someone like me to have a meaningful relationship with so many more people, especially to keep up with the many people I meet while travelling.

    I came to Facebook reluctantly, but it has become one of my daily pleasures, and has put me back in touch with childhood friends. I grew up in a close, tiny community, but I had lost contact with everyone. We’ve gone in different directions, and though we don’t have enough in common to be close friends in constant contact, Facebook allows a connection that is surprisingly rewarding.

    Now, when I go home, I make time to meet up with a few of the friends I connect with on Facebook. We have a current relationship, so a personal meeting is natural. I am grateful to have these people back in my life — there’s something special about a relationship that started when you were 9.

    Ironically, the Web has given me back my traditional rural roots, at the same time as it has allowed me to work from wherever I am in the world, and maintain relationships with people I meet who live thousands of miles away. There is something deliciously human about how electronic media has affected my life.
    Wendy Peck recently posted…(Relatively) Instant Soup from the FreezerMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks so much for joining the discussion, Wendy. I somehow knew you’d have a very unique and interesting perspective to share on this endearing subject.

      Yes, I’m close friends with someone in Wpg whom I’ve known since I was 12. We’ve really lived our lives together, yet we have so many different facets that have made ours an ebb and flow friendship that has been previously referred to in the discussion.

      Re social media, I absolutely LOVE the way it has indeed opened the world to us and enabled us to make friends the world over. It’s a small, small world …

  24. Cathy M says:

    Recently, my maid of honour in Edmonton came to Winnipeg for 2 days to participate in my shower. I think this is a wonderful gesture for I wasn’t expecting her to come to the event after she came in November for dress shopping!!
    Facebook has allowed us to remain connected BUT we always pick up the phone to talk to one another.
    The distance is hard because you can’t meet in 10 minutes at Tim Horton’s and share your deepest thoughts and give or lend a hug.

    I always remember a saying in elementary school… friENDs are till the END” Simple… yet very true.
    @->->-

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks so much for sharing those thoughts, Cathy. Yes, you and Priya are lucky to have such a wonderful bond. Hold onto it and hope it will become a lifelong friendship as I have with Pat. (We’ll be celebrating 40 years next year, and my friend, Mary and I have been friends even longer …)

  25. Leora
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great topic.

    My online and offline friends are quite different. Many of my local friends hardly ever go online. But they can listen and be there in person. Some of my online friends I have never met, but I feel like I know them (and they know some key parts of me as well).

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Absolutely, Leora. It’s amazing how we can really develop wonderful relationships with online friends.

      Thanks for dropping into the blog. I hope you’ll return again soon.

  26. Bonnie Zink says:

    Doreen, this posting is wonderful. I am also a connector, a community builder, and a relationship junky. Once social media came along, I found the opportunity to network beyond my immediate world and began making connections across the globe.

    Many of these connections have turned into valuable professional relationships, some have provided a much needed alternative perspective, and all have turned into lasting communities that may celebrate milestone years.

    Ultimately, each connection I make online and in person brings value and wisdom to my pool of knowledge. Each connection provides a shining glint of promise that often, when we pay enough attention to it, grows into a brilliant ray of friendship. My online communities do not pale in comparison to my in person communities; they compliment each other.

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      I love your perspective, Bonnie!

      I can’t wait to meet you in person next month and turn our online friendship and respect for one another into a real life in-person friendship.

      You are so right in that each person we meet online who adds a bit of sunshine, knowledge or valuable connection to our ever-expanding world has made all the efforts of building our online world worthwhile. Cheers, and thanks so much for sharing your insights with us.

  27. Cheryl
    Twitter:
    says:

    I am here as a result of the LinkedIn Bloggers Helping Bloggers group. Nice to meet you! This is a very timely post given the current state of ‘Friend’. I look forward to reading more. 🙂

  28. Bethany Lee says:

    Wow–you do have a lot of conversation going on about this topic–friendship no less. It is apparent that you have developed some good friends via your blog as well.
    I think it was Virginia who wrote about the differences between introverts and extroverts, and that you are an extrovert and therefore, you have a more the merrier approach. That struck me. I don’t know whether to call myself an introvert or extrovert because I feel like an introvert since I can be shy, but online, I have not that shyness at all. Like you, I am on so many social media sites that you can find out all about me (don’t know if that’s bad either). I love making friendships via social media, but it seems like I have a hard time doing it in real life. So many people tend to be busy.
    I do, however, have a small circle of friends that I have shared life with since I was a little girl. I’m not sure what this says about me. Hmmm…
    You’ve given me something to think about.

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation, Bethany.

      I’m very encouraged by the responses here. Friendship has always been so very important to me. I’m glad to see it’s important to so many others who have taken the time to join the discussion.

      The fact that you have many longterm friendships shows a strength and consistency of character in my opinion. It definitely shows strength and conviction. I hope that some of the newer people in your life are also making an impact on you and making you stretch. I find that every new friend I make helps me grow in some way.

  29. I couldn’t agree more Doreen. I love connecting people as well, and the fun part is that with social media, we have so many more opportunities for connection in various degrees. I really love your passion for connecting with the beauty and soul of the person behind the computer screen, and think it’s awesome that you truly value the unique contribution of each individual. Cheers!

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks, Katrina!

      So happy to hook up with you via our blogs. I appreciate your insights as well.

      I hope you’ll visit us here again soon.

  30. Ameeta Agnihotri says:

    Its so nice to have such good friends. You are indeed blessed Doreen. I, on the other hand am not such a ‘friends’ person. I am more of a ‘sister’ person because I have two sisters and we talk our souls out.
    Thank you for taking the time to read my blog 🙂

  31. WizardOfWords
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Ameeta and welcome to the blog!

    I think you brought up an important point that I never mentioned previously and has thus far escaped the discussion.

    I have no sisters. I have no mother (she died when I was 13.) I have no close female cousins (the 2 that I keep more in touch with live many miles away.) I have no children. So friendships have played a very important role throughout my entire life.

    I have made an effort to nurture those friendships and I truly cherish them — whether they are in the same room, province, country as me, or across the world as “online” friendships.

  32. Angry Birds says:

    I totally agree with you about the fact that the term friend has changed over the years. I’m one on the lazy side and when social media easy to get in touch with friends. So I literally bug them to join the social media. 😉
    Angry Birds recently posted…My Collection of The Most Interesting Room DividersMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi “Angry Birds” and thanks for joining he conversation.

      I have a couple of friends who don’t even so e-mail, so social media is completely out of the question! So I really have to make the effort to pick up the phone every once in awhile.

      And then I have friends who like some social media (mostly FB) and they don’t enjoy reading and commenting on blogs. I encourage, but try to never be a nag about it because that takes the fun out of it!

      So we definitely have to have a broad mind when it comes to interpersonal comm’ns these days as there’s no such thing as one size fits all!

  33. Margaret Anne Fehr says:

    Doreen,
    Interesting comment you made about ‘friend’ being considered a verb, and not a noun. But I happen to think that’s something you’ve been doing on a regular basis; ‘friending’ that is. I count myself as being one of your newer friends; we first met at a dinner meeting. I wasn’t even a writer at that time, but your open style and genuine warmth came through so eloquently. IMHO, you were already ‘friending’ and it’s indicative of your openness in wanting to be open to making continual connections. With some people, they are content to preserve their current ‘circle’ of friends and family and it doesn’t take long to figure out that there’s an invisible ‘do not enter sign’ that blocks further interaction. To each their own, I say, but I’m just glad that your door is always wide open! Love ya’, girlfriend!

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thank you SO much, Margaret. Your comments and friendship are so appreciated. Especially this wkend, as I had someone send me a very nasty letter for what she calls “ongoing and and unacceptable ‘bullying’ behaviour.” I think you and anyone who knows me knows that there isn’t a bullying bone in my body. It’s so outside my personality and my essence of being. As you say … to each their own. Her definition of humanity is obviously completely different to mine, and I think … most others’.

  34. Diane
    Twitter:
    says:

    You are talking to a person where the word, the meaning of friendship is one that has many layers, but I still go back to what I was told so many years ago…if you can count the number of (true) friends on you one hand, you have been truly blessed.

    Since the advent of social media, it is indeed a lot easier to connect with people, but friendship is still something that to me takes the test of time to develop. As you might imagine I am not the worlds best extrovert..is that because I am a Pisces…lol?

    I think each and every one of us has a litmus test, different benchmarks that we subconsciously use to open ourselves up to others, with some people it is easy to talk to..others..well that is a different story.

    I love hearing about how others view friendship as there are those times I feel that I am missing something in the equation, so it is still a learning curve for me ( my goodness that sounded strange) and I have to be honest and say that I envy your easy going manner…you are indeed very fortunate and I thank you for sharing.
    Diane recently posted…Parenting Tip – What is the Secret Word?My Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks so much, Diane, for joining us here on the blog. I always enjoy your insights and your honesty.

      I believe you are friendlier than you may think. When I was struggling to navigate my way around Pinterest as a new user, you were right there (virtually) to help me. And you have been supporting my blogs ever since. I really thank you for that.

      We do all though have different comfort levels as to what feels natural for us when sharing with other people. It’s easy for me to share of myself as I thrive on interpersonal comm’ns and interactions. They don’t drain me as they do some introverts. They exhilarate me!

  35. Jen Anderson says:

    I really enjoy the fact that the internet can bring together people of common interests. The larger the pool you have to choose from, the more likely you are to find people you click with. For example, I developed better, stronger friendships in my high school class of 220 people than I did in my grade school of 60.

    I’ve made friends through their blogs and those friends have introduced me to people in real life. I also like how FB has let me renew connections with old classmates – I’m adopting a child through the foster system and a high school friend of mine did the same last year. It’s been great to be able to support each other and compare notes.
    Jen Anderson recently posted…Clearing Out My BrainMy Profile

  36. tipstrick says:

    for me, friendship means loyalty from your friend, give love and get love back, be ready to save each other and finally confidence. today like you were saying in your post, facebook change the meaning of friend and we can be friend just in 1 min.

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      I absolutely was not saying that! Facebook has introduced a new definition of the word “friend” into our modern-day language. That is not MY definition.

      I treasure real friendship as you have described it. It is one of the most important things in my life.

      Thank you for dropping into the blog.

  37. You’ve definitely shed some light on a gift that is truly being taken for granted these days. Friends have always been described to me as “the family you get to choose”. We often do take them for granted, but you’ve given me something to think about. I’ve lost two good friends for different reasons in the last year, but my life has improved since so I don’t mind so much anymore, but it makes me appreciate the new friends I’ve made and the other long lasting ones I still have. Life is a funny thing, but it’s good to know people like you remind us about the important things.
    Dennis Salvatier recently posted…3 Reasons You Need "Why Not" People In Your LifeMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks, Dennis!

      I do think it’s important to step back every once in awhile and re-evaluate the things (and relationships) that are important to us.

      Thanks for joining the conversation.

  38. Wanda says:

    I absolutely loved your post Doreen! I totally agree with you in this friend verb thing! What annoys me the most is that you have facebook ‘friends’ who in real life will never be your friend! I mean isn’t a friend someone you love, some one you share with, you can trust, you can rely on. what about your over 200 facebook friends? How many of them do you ACTUALLY even know?

    • WizardOfWords
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Wanda and thanks for joining the blog!

      I must say that on my personal FB page, I pretty much only “friend” or accept a friend request from one of the following: a personal friends or acquaintance, someone I know from an assn I belong to or someone I’ve had significant interaction with online. On my professional FB pages (I have one for my book on volunteerism and I have one for my professional life as an author) anyone can join those pages.

      But thank goodness for real “friends.’

  39. You have to choose only real friends in your Facebook. Do not add people whom you do not know.

  40. Beverly says:

    You are such a great friend to everyone, Doreen. I am so glad to know you.

  41. Hi loved your post. True Friends are really life’s treasures, they are the one’s who will always be there to back you up, not only in good times but most importantly on your bad times. Thanks for sharing. really great.
    how to make money recently posted…#AskNoahStJohn Show EpisodeMy Profile

  42. WizardOfWords
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for your comment, Diane, and for visiting the blog!

    As I know you are an avid chocolate lover, I hope you will take a moment to visit my chocolate travel blog at http://chocolatour.net. It just may help you and Kevin choose a choco-centric destination for a future trip!
    WizardOfWords recently posted…an ode to things gone byMy Profile

  1. February 16, 2013

    […] just what is a friend?May 2, 2012 … Diane Gumprich May 3, 2012 at 10:11 am. Doreen, I read your article and enjoyed it. To me, friendship is like the chocolate we all so enjoy. […]

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