Why the Definition of “Friendship” has Changed?

Trying to understand friendship in today’s world may seem different. Back in the day, your friend was someone in the neighborhood, a classmate, or someone you saw (in person) on a regular basis. You shared everything from clothes and gossip to your hopes and fears, and they made you feel happy. You passed notes in class, had sleepovers, and hoped you didn’t get a busy signal when you called them on their landline to make plans.

Today, healthy friendships are still important, but the definition of friendship has completely changed, primarily as a result of social media and gaming. In fact, it is entirely possible to consider someone living on the other side of the world your friend. A friend can be someone you’ve never actually met in person. You share aspects of your life with them, usually after you’ve carefully filtered the pictures and removed any bad news from the post about your fabulous day. But are they really good friends? What’s the definition of a real friend? What are the qualities of a good friend?  Let’s try to define friend and determine what friendship involves.

A Broader Definition of Friendship

What are the signs of a true friend? In the past, a true friend, or intimate friend, was someone that was with you through thick and thin and with whom you didn’t mind sharing everything–the person you ran to after a breakup and celebrated with after a promising interview for your dream job.

In today’s world, anyone can be your friend, including that person you never really liked in high school, the neighbor you’ve only waved at once, and a friend of a friend of a friend–you get the picture. After all, the more social media friends you have, the better off you are, right? Don’t feel that a friend always has to be someone you share all your secrets with, or that will always be there for you. A friend definition wouldn’t be complete without including casual friends. Some may wonder, what is a casual friends definition.? These are the type of friends you see from time to time but find it hard to get together with constantly.

Casual friends may be people you spend less time with than your close friends. But, you are closer to them than you are just acquaintances. The casual friend definition can vary, but you likely have some common interests or got to know each other by going to school together or working together, or being in a similar situation. Although you may not consider casual friendships to be as important as close friendships, this is still an important area of your life. It can feel comfortable spending time with people you feel less pressure to please. Additionally, most people just enjoy getting to know some of the people they see at places they visit on a regular basis.

The definition of friendship has become broader and increasingly vague. A friend isn’t necessarily someone you really know and see as a confidant. Instead, a friend can be any casual acquaintance, a person you’ve only met in passing. And, in the case of gamers, a friend can be a voice you know with a face you’ve never actually seen.

Friendship is a Word that Gets Thrown Around

As the role of friendships has changed, so have the words to describe them. For example, the words “friendship,” “friend,” and “BFF” are so often thrown around or used in hashtags that they’ve lost their meaning. At one time, calling someone, your BFF meant they were your “go-to” person, the one who shared the good times with you but stuck around when you hit bottom. Now, after spending one fun weekend at the beach, someone may be tagged as a BFF on social media when they know very few details about each other.

Sadly, friendship isn’t quite the sacred term it used to be. Anyone can be your friend currently. It might be someone you met at work, or maybe even someone you’ve had a casual dating relationship with. In a few cases, people with a very intimate yet casual relationship, may call themselves friends with benefits. There’s no one way to make a friend.

Today, friends are often social media friends or someone with whom you spend time playing online games. While it’s nice having social media and gaming friends, there is an important question to ask. What do you do when you are facing life’s darkest moments or celebrating its brightest days? Whose door can you knock on or, phone can you call at 3 AM knowing they’ll answer? That is when you need a real friend, a true friend that cares no matter when you need them.

The Definition of True Friendship Hasn’t Changed

To be honest, many of your social media and gaming friends are nothing more than acquaintances. They are probably not great friends, but they are also not fake friends or bad friends. They may meet today’s broader definition of friendship, but they don’t meet the definition of a real friend. Instead, they are the “friends” you say happy birthday to or congratulate when they post about their latest amazing accomplishment. They’re never going to be that person you confide in. They’re not going to be that person you call in the middle of the night when you need someone to talk to. They are less likely to provide the mental health benefits of a close friend, such as relieving stress or increasing self-love. However, some online friends can become true friends with whom you spend time in person and will be there for you during good times and bad times.

But not all social media friends will become true friends. If they come to actually care about you, even when you are having a difficult time and being with you isn’t necessarily always convenient or fun, you have a good friend. However, if your friend doesn’t feel comfortable being around you when you’re having a tough time, it’s not real friendship. After all, a true friend accepts you as you are. True friends support you when you need them. Beyond this, the definition of friendship may vary. Some people want their close friends to have shared interests, whereas other people form friendships that will expose them to new things. Having similar beliefs can also be an important part of close friendships for some people.

But for others, these sorts of differences aren’t so important. But, no matter how you define a friend, you need and deserve a deeper level of friendship because good friendships are important. Here are some things you can do to try and develop more true friendships.

1.        Spend Time With Friends: Most people are so busy that they have trouble even doing the things they need to do, let alone finding time to do anything else. But, if you don’t spend time with a friend, you are unlikely to develop a close friendship.

2.      Open Up: One of the best ways for two people to feel like they have a strong connection is to have a more personal knowledge of each other. As you have conversations with each other, try gradually moving to discuss more personal topics. This can and should start out slowly with topics such as your weekend plans and very gradually move toward more personal topics. Be ready to slow down if the other person seems to be uncomfortable, and avoid dominating the conversation.

3.      Trust: In order to have a true friend, it is essential for both of you to be able to trust each other. This means being able to confide in one another and be sure that whatever is said will remain between the two of you.

True friendship remains the same, though it is becoming increasingly rare, and true friends are worth making. But this doesn’t mean you should forget your casual friends and acquaintances. They are fun to spend time with as well.

Now, who wants to be my Facebook friend?

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