When you get to be middle aged and older, having lived to make incredible stories so one is not bored out of their freaking mind in really old age, you realize that real friends are someone that must be proven in your life over a period of years. Years. The same code of friendship from the 1970s and 1980s still applies with any sensible baby boomer.
It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, one always has to stay open to some degree to the incoming possibility of new friends. You have be a friend to make one. Sometimes even that is not enough.
The challenge for all of us after we leave high school, (where for instance I had perhaps a hundred rather remarkable friends), is that life is what happens to all of us as we go forward. We lose touch with most of them after school, both high school and college. Then there are those people at our jobs over the years, friends come and go, and we lose touch. You get married, have kids, and lose touch. You move from city to city and lose touch. People come and go like passing ships in the seaward night. Often it is MEANT to be that way.
By the time of your 50s, you have very little time or willingness to put up with people that are supposed to be friends and don’t measure up. Society since the 1970s has changed demonstrably, and not for the better because commitment, loyalty, and punctuality in social engagement is being replaced by quickie voyeurism, jealousy, and competition to see or be seen doing something cool on social media. They think nothing of leaving the house looking like they slept in their clothes. Too many people are like staged events with the attention span of a strobe light. The lack of attentiveness to setting the phone aside to enjoy a meal or really talk, has been supplanted with constant spying into other people’s lives by fiddling with electronica like a hungry poodle plopped onto the dinner table. Many now are not old enough to know what has been lost over these decades, they have no idea of the false flag event they impose on their own lives with such a public displays of social plasticity. There is a serious lack of meaningful communication in this country.
Too, when you have had great friends like in a bold novel, as I have had, one is forced to lower expectations over time. My 80 year old father (twice told millionaire, now a senior on a semi-fixed income, but so very rich in Christ), has been a good friend and an unparalleled mentor. My best friends have all been like mentors — A college professor gave me some of the best life info any friend ever could. A Mormon woman did the same before dying from a spider bite in the Arkansas woods. A powerful business woman I dated for a few months in the 90s, gave me life answers of common sense. A former special ops soldier/ high school friend (guy killed over 100 bad guys in one night by himself/machine gun) told me how to transcend powerful life events that might crush the soul. An anthropology professor I grew up with (in touch with now) has been comfort. Those are just the pivotal ones I can think of right now—there are many more, but the point IS— the list of real friends in our adult lives is usually not long. The rest are brass and cymbals, as fillers of silence.
The Apocrypha tells us that we should have but one counselor in a thousand. Meaning the great TRUSTWORTHY friends are far and few between. To me the reality of family is sacred and the somewhat lesser notion of a benchmark friend is almost as important, but far more elusive. The type of friends that were, let’s say from the 70s right through the mid-90s, were the type that could ably be infused into your family. Since that fateful time of the Hopi whistling rock prophecy where mankind chose chaos over unity (the 1994-95 period), the internet’s rise, and more especially the stillborn and lackluster 2000s, perhaps it was the fright of 911 coupled with the failure of social media to make the promised connections that led to a psychological sea change creating aloofness in people. By 2016, the strangest thing of all occurred where the country divided themselves socially between liberals and conservatives in the national election. People are disgusted and really over the whole thing! So they recede. I know people that have been seriously hurt by all this insanity! And all this bullshit and hubris floating in the ethers is creating the winds of World War 3. I know that the reason for this societal madness is because we are living in the last days, where people turn stone sour (2 Timothy 3:1-7). Those of us really paying attention over the decades have felt all these aforementioned historical shifts in a BIG way. I mention this 2 or 3 times in my book Wild Willful Heart.
My family tends to keep a tight circle of a handful of people that come and go in our lives. Everyone is busy like us, and we do not chase people around. In these strange end times, I literally admonish everyone I know to focus on family, and learn to be your own best friend, in case one has to. This is a time to work on our relationship with Christ, core family and the self.
This is why I take exception with the super casual ideation of “friends”, as associated in Facebook. I see FB as great for business promotion, and obviously somewhat necessary, so I have no problems with that, the problem is FB for the sake of maintaining relationships on a personal level. It does not work. Back in 2006, when FB was just coming online, my wife and one of her friends decided to use me as guinea pig before they signed up themselves—
I got an account that grew to 60 friends in the 6 months I was on there. Back then, there were not that many people on FB. And I worked it. I had some really good and surprise reconnections, some fights over religion and politics of the period, was attacked by a high school girlfriend that had 5 marriages over “what I had done to her” in the seventies (I had no idea, but I took the time to heal her heart with some incredible assertions as to her beauty back in the day, and how much I was intimidated by her, because back then I was just a teenager) that was all true. Of course, then I had to block the crazy broad. After 6 long months of this, where I skipped to Classmates for greater satisfaction (brief), I deleted the FB account out of sheer boredom. I felt such euphoria over the delete button. It was not the only social account I deleted that year. I had a profound sense that FB was ruining the social fabric of an already beleaguered population of stressed out Americans. I have commonly heard over the time, since I deleted those accounts that they never did provide the benefits to everyone that was promised.
No surprise, it served the Millennials well, an entire generation that imagines this stilted electronica to BE communication. Ultimately, I am convinced that social media has reduced the social fabric of America to quickie sound bytes. Sadly fascinating— in a kind of decline of western civilization manner!
And let’s not forget the biggest overriding problem with social media is the government spying apparatus. They have NO friggin’ right to our information. We should have a monument for Snowden and Assange in D.C.