Social media has accelerated the evolution of the concept of friendship. Facebook decided to use the word ‘friend’ to describe anyone in your contact list. That’s fine if someone is actually your friend in the flesh and blood world. But now if someone from the other side of the world likes a few of your posts and wants to keep up with your online activity, they can request to be your friend. If you accept, they become your ‘friend’. That’s it. The only requirement for ‘friendship’ on Facebook is two clicks… one by the one wanting the connection, and the other by the one accepting the connection. I wonder what effect this is having on the idea of friendship in the general culture. As easy as it is to become a ‘friend’, it only takes one click to end a Facebook ‘friendship’. I really wonder what that does to the friendship culture in society.
It is actually a pretty close representation of the fragile nature of friendship. It really is easier to end a friendship than to create one. There seems to be less of an interest in restoring broken friendships today. The more friends we have, the easier it is to discount the ones we lose. But we as Christians should be people who value friendship enough to invest in the making of a friend, and in the keeping of that friend. Yes, it is work, and it is painful. But everything of worth is. The danger is that we develop shallow, ‘throwaway’ relationships. Our friendships become an inch deep and a mile wide. We need to seek relationship sustainability. The Bible gives us much wisdom about friendships. Here are three ways you can improve the quality and longevity of friendships in your life.
· Choose your friends better – I’m not suggesting you run a background check on all potential friends. But understand that you have to be choosy in order to be healthy. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
· Categorize friendships more honestly – If you label several people as your ‘best friend’, you have sent mixed signals to all of them, and created an environment that will almost surely breed jealousy. “A man with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
· Cultivate your friendships – Friendships are like a garden in which you grow relationships. Cultivation involves preparing yourself for friendships, and then caring for the friends in your life. This will entail feeding relationships. But sometimes it involves culling or ‘thinning out the herd’ for the health of the rest. “The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.” (Proverbs 27:6)
Today, value your friends, and those who may become your friends. But be wise in how you interact with people in your life. It takes more clicks to create a friendship than it does to delete one.
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.