Friendship is not about selfies. It is about love that is selfless and that needs to be cherished.
The true friendship we often spoke of at school and eulogise until today cannot be based on hierarchy or quid pro quo. It’s that selfless bond we read about and sometimes have the privilege of owning. And until death does us apart, one cannot even know for sure if we’ve experienced the real kind of selfless friendship sans commerce and benefits.
It’s somewhat apart from love and romance in my opinion, because when it’s love you just know it and you feel that super high flying kind of magic and plunge into a deep relationship. With friendship you’re discovering the reality as you go along. In case you’re wondering how I know, it’s because I’ve felt the magic of love. And in my deepest of deep friendships, I’ve still got to find out whether there was real love and friendship or if there were ‘reasons’ for the friendship. Was there a transactional element hidden somewhere?
This brings me to a birthday party I was invited to in a huge Whatsapp group this week. Women of all kinds, working, non-working, mothers, daughters, granddaughters were invited very warmly. What was most surprising to me was the tone adopted by those ladies invited once the invite was issued. Nearly across the board the ones that declined were dismissive to the point of being abrasive. There was hardly any warmth or kindness or delight at being included. It was more like “can’t come”; “sorry I’m busy”; “Thanks but I’m travelling” and other such nearly disdainful posts that sounded as if the invitees were being imposed upon. The girl inviting was warm, popular and a wonderful soul so I was all the more taken aback.
Has friendship as I have understood it faded? Is today’s friendship predominantly about give and take — quick group pictures with flowery posts on social media with no real-world context? Is the new friendship about monies exchanged in kitty parties with little to do with each other in terms of involvement, love, emotional investment?
We live in times changing so fast that in our lifetime some of us have seen television change drastically; the advent of the internet and with it the rise of social media that changed many dynamics in good ways and bad, and yes, we’ve seen the love of friendship become quite not the priority. I often see friends meet and be on their phones, each absorbed in some other chat or post than absorbed in each other.
Call me old fashioned but I still hold onto and even crave more of the friendships that are just for the sake of a cuppa together, a hug, a shoulder on a weepy day and a chat when something seems like it’s sinking in the chest. Nothing truly can beat or replace the joy of a friendship which is only for the sake of a friendship.
Coming back to the Whatsapp group that catapulted these thoughts, I have to say warmth and gentle words can only nurture and grow feelings of love. It is difficult to bridle one’s hormones and moods, but over time you realise that it’s important to be mindful and kind to friends. Even if they are not your closest or dearest. To take people for granted and be rough because you perhaps can get away with it is not the best way to navigate the map of relationships.
And as for deep bonds of lifelong friendships that are becoming extinct, I’d say it is, in reality, the most healing, therapeutic thing, perhaps more than yoga and breathing exercises. We need to really value, seek, find, cherish and gain beautiful friendships urgently in this life of rising anxiety, stress, care and fast-paced existence.
The writer is a columnist, designer and brand consultant. Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org