Thursday, August 9, 2012

Communication With Friends

Just about every day I play the game Words With Friends. In between moves, the app asks me if I want to play Scramble with Friends, or Hanging with Friends (this sounds a bit morose to me!), or some other "with friends" game that just came out and that's name I can't recall. Sadly, it seems one thing people don't have time for these days is communication with friends. I feel the meaning of communication - true communication - has diminished. In the days of letting writing, or even email as the main form of communication, it's very unlikely that a friend would have written to me "I had an omelet for breakfast" and I would have written back "like", and that would count being close friends. So I figured, because of the importance of friendship in my life, I'd share a few thoughts of mine on what constitutes friendship.
  • Liking a Facebook status, or a pin, or any other status-like item does not count as communication. It might be supportive, and I do truly appreciate it. But let's be honest, I see that you also just liked the promotion on the side of the page for "eating french fries." 
  • Social media comments count if it's something personal. "Thanks" or "have a good one" could be said to (or possibly by) a monkey. It isn't at all personal to me. I'm not saying these aren't valid, but again, if this is how we "communicate", we aren't. 
  • Reach out. I can't stress this enough. If I always have to initiate the real communication, I'll get tired of it and one day you'll notice that I don't anymore. Making an effort shows me you care. Here's where social media can work to your advantage. The other day I had a friend post a beautiful picture of elephants on my Facebook page. She knew I was having a tough day and that I love elephants, and specifically shared it with me. She thought of me and made the extra effort. 
  • Social media DOES count as communication if used to actually do so. I have friends that I've made through social media that live around the world and I've never physically met. Still, we've gotten to know each other, and we check in on each other, chat, help each other out, etc. I've also reconnected, really re-connected, with a lot of people through Facebook. 
  • Possibly my biggest pet peeve in friendships: "I don't have the time," "I'm so busy at work - or my sport, or with this project, or picking my nose - so I haven't contacted you/replied/made an effort". This means one thing to me: I'm not a priority. If it's once in a while, it's ok. I understand that we all have a life. But here's the thing - I run my own business and am one-woman show.  If I don't work, I don't get paid. And guess what - I still have time for you. I took that 30 seconds out of my day to send you a text. Because no one lies on their death bed thinking they wish they'd spent more time at the office, and clients aren't at their bedside end of their life. Period. 
  • There are two big exceptions to the above bullet point: 1.) If we've been lifelong friends. Bottom line - we have history. That counts for so much. 2.) If you have small and/or multiple children. These said, reach out SOME time. But I get that it may not be as frequent or in depth. 
  • Openness is the key. My close friends and I talk about everything. I mean everything. "Hi, how are you. I'm fine, busy. Have a good day" is not a conversation with a friend. It's a conversation with that coworker that you see at the water cooler every day and can't for the life of you remember their name even though you've asked five times. 
  • Be there for me and support me. I shouldn't have to always ask you to. 
See a theme here? Communicate, often if possible, and make it personal. Reach out, make the effort, and actually talk about something real. This probably sounds like a rant. I don't mean it to. I just think people have lost sight of what friendship really means. I hope this makes people think. Actions speak louder than words, always, and I feel we've lost that. So I'm curious to see people's reactions. I might get rotten tomatos thrown at me, and I might see some changes in people for the better. Probably a combination. Only time will tell. 

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