Friendship is dead. Long live friendship

renai_1519Tonight, I removed twenty people from my Facebook “friend” list. This usually would not be anything special for me to write about – this isn’t the first time I’ve culled my list. However, tonight…I was angry.

Rather, I am angry, which seems to be the best motivator to bring me back here and get me writing again. Mostly because I refuse to trouble anyone who is actually a friend. The rest comes from me having something valuable to say. Though emotions drive me to write, I still will never take to the keyboard or pick up a pen if I have nothing to say that’s worth reading.

So..why am I angry.

I’m angry because when I look at my list of 300+ “friends”, I objectively know that more than half of them are not my friend. I have quite a few people that I trust and value, but it frustrates me to have so many people that merely hang on a thread of meaning – of sheer justification for me to care about them – simply because of a past memory or shared experience. Those threads bind tougher than anyone would suspect. Those twenty people I cut loose tonight also had tough, relentless threads. They merely weakened and rightfully snapped free.

I’m angry that such threads exist because I care about them. About people, memories, former comradery that we clung so dear to. That maybe, just maybe, they will need me one day. That perhaps – somewhere underneath their cluttered livelihoods, romantic escapades, tightly wound job connections, and group photos with people I’ll never meet – they still give a tiny fuck about me. So many of these “friends” need to be released from the menial obligation that social media in general has so programmed us to depend on. But really, I’m the one who seeks release. While their lives will go on unchanged, I will have to forget.

I’m angry because I only wanted to reach out to my Japanese friends, who I admittedly belittled during my time in Osaka, only to find that only one remains. The one who gave me so much of his time and effort to make me feel welcome in many ways. Who went out of his way to show me friendship when I was too blind and naive to fully embrace it, for I was merely a visitor who would fade away and be replaced. Who gave me a momento from his high school because he valued me so much. And yet…I can’t bring myself to even say hello. I’ve changed so much physically, mentally, and spiritually that to approach him would be to open up so much that I’m not sure he could handle. No matter how strong I’ve become since I’ve transitioned, I would break if the only person left that I’m connected to in Japan from my abroad stay wanted nothing to do with me.

His thread is so very resilient. Yet, I often believe I should just end it with one snip…

I’m angry because the concept of what constitutes “friendship” has become so warped, broken, and fickle. Even I fell into the trap of “friending” those who I believed I’d be able to still connect with after our performance concluded. After the club trip ended. After we parted ways from the party or event. Neither of us had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Despite the odds being in our favor, so many of us fail miserably to hold up our end of the bargain. The two-way street is never paved and we become connected by the most disgustingly worthless standard of all: Facebook friends.

I’m tired of people taking my ideology and value of friendship for granted. I’m even more tired of me falling for the same trick over and over, thinking something more will come of it. However, to disengage from such an activity would be to revert back to the untrusting, withdrawn person I was for so much of my life. That angry, miserable person is mostly disposed of, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. So many people I’m truly grateful to have in my life wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t given myself a chance to believe anything could come of it.

So what is “friendship” in this day and age if nothing more than a simple button click? So much of our lives have been boiled down to a click using a cursor that children now come out of the womb knowing how to use. Where is the vibrant and fervent pursuit of platonic relationship that used to exist in days merely held in revere within history books? Where is the desire – desperate fear even – that someone may forget about the moment in time spent if one of you never mailed a letter? We allow online services to keep track of our connections, and at the end of year, only one-eighth of them know that we actually gave a damn.

This is what I believe to be the pitiful, meandering, passively acquiescent state of a vast majority of people’s lives as it relates to rapidly declining valuing of the human connection. Maybe it’s time to take active ownership of our lives, not just in the real world, but on social media as well.

Take a good hard look at the people around you–actually no. Don’t waste your time doing that. Take a good hard look at the people you think you have as friends. If you’re anything like me, maybe you’ll see a pattern of people you gave access to you who have no business having access to you. Maybe you’ll find that person you said you’d write back, but never did. Maybe you’ll realize that maybe accepting every friend/follow request isn’t the best way to build meaningful, lasting relationships.

Maybe you too will find yourself angry at how few people among those hundreds on your list you can truly call a friend.

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