By Angelica Recierdo, inside columnist
When I was in elementary school, my hometown seemed bigger than it really was. In the summer, I would exchange home phone numbers and street addresses with the girls I sat with at lunch or played with at recess, and then I would bid them farewell like they were going on a two-month hibernation. Summer was a roadblock to our friendship because we weren’t physically in a classroom together.
Nonetheless, some friends and I would stay pen pals in the same town, writing about the summer programs or trips that kept us apart. That was almost 10 years ago, when friendship meant including their initials in away messages on AIM and wearing the other half of a heart “best friends” necklace. Today, I think the art of making new friends has become less of a declaration and more of a chosen association.
When I’m really excited by a person, I want them to experience things with me – maybe we clicked in a class or laughed at the same things at a mutual friend’s party.
Friends are made instantaneously now, and what used to take years of being next-door neighbors to form a bond now just takes the right conversation at the right time.
So we hand out pieces of our heart in the forms of Facebook event requests, likes and follows. We copy and paste links to articles and videos to garner a quick laugh or sense of approval. Parsing the media of others has become a way of conversation. Tell me what you did last weekend and I’ll tell you I missed you by showing you a funny meme that reminded me of you. Snapchat is yesterday’s knock on the door and LinkedIn is the past’s good word. Will all of those apps and networks be archaic to the people of the future? What else could possibly replace them and facilitate friendship?
We all have our ways of staying close to old friends and acquaintances. We may not have an hour a week to spend together at times, but I’ll make recommendations of all the places I went recently that I think you’d like. If you like postcards, I’ll remember that next time I’m in a new place, and when I come over for a movie night, I’ll bring that riesling wine you like. Small but thoughtful actions go a long way in a fast world that will leave you behind. I think the most intimate of gestures nowadays is a handwritten birthday card. There’s no accrued social media following that could be comparable to the weight of a message that reminds someone of the first time you met or of the qualities you love so much about them.
We could all be better friends to the people we already have in our circle and to future new ones.
Starting off screen-free will make the bond much stronger. Continuing to pencil in screen-free time by going for a run in the park or making things together, like new music, is the way people grow. The world needs more candid and ugly conversations. No more surface recap of: How’s work? How’re classes? How’s the love life? Ask the questions that hurt, like, how is your family doing after your grandma passed away? Or, is going to business school really going to make you happy? We are not as polished as our profiles online make us seem, and we deserve people who will chip us off a little to really get to our story.
Will we ever be able to stop collecting friends and colleagues and connections and really curate the special few? Will we really go visit them on that long weekend that we’ve been promising about all year? Actually show up to the event they invited us to? Meet the other special people in their lives? Cancellations, missed calls and excuses should be used sparingly, and, when it comes to filling the hearts of those that have hand-picked us as their friends, there is no excess.
-Angelica Recierdo can be reached at Inside@HuntNewsNU.com.