When you need to talk to someone at 3 AM, when you need someone to meet you at the emergency room, when you (or they) got that dreaded diagnosis, when you want to celebrate the big deal, the big job, or the big day — we need friends who are tangible, engaged, and reciprocal who are here, touchable, huggable, ready to be there for us as we are for them.
Yes, it is really cool to ‘connect with someone’ far away who loves your writing, someone on a dating site, someone in the same business — these are great connections. I don’t mean to dismiss them. I have made some extraordinary connections that way. But when push comes to shove, the people I reach out to are nearby, most within 100 miles, a local call — and we can press the flesh the same day if the need arises.
We need both.
Technology enables the first kind — and how we can make those connections more meaningful will become more critical; one day Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as we know them today will have been long ago replaced by what is next, what is newer, what is better … maybe a virtual reality-meets-facetime way of handshake and a hug.
The old-fashioned value of ‘see you, know you, spend time with you,’ mode to share real experiences in real-time friend — we will always need some of those.
Not hundreds or tens of thousands.
Probably for most people, fewer than ten.
We need them now more than ever.
Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. – Helen Keller
I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better. - Plutarch
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. – C.S. Lewis