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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Friends Questions

In 1973 or 1974, I saw Billy Joel in the gym at my college, SUNY New Paltz. The band got lost somewhere between Long Island and our upstate town right on the Thruway and the concert started over two hours late.

There was a conversation about just passing on the opening act and to go right to the headliner, but that didn't happen. Instead, Buzzy Linhart did his opening set. Don't remember much about it, except that, since he knew we had no idea who he was, he kept name-dropping. He knew David Crosby and Bob Dylan. He worked with John Sebastian and Jimi Hendrix. It was all so...irritating, even though it turned out to be true. He seemed most proud of the fact that he co-wrote the song "Friends" that Bette Midler recorded.

That's a story that I all but forgot until I read that story a couple weeks ago about Americans having fewer friends.

I think I'm pretty lucky that I've had some very good friends over the years: my racquetball partner Norm for maybe 20 years, my first-day-of-college friend Mark since 1971, my friend Karen from kindergarten (!), just to name three that I'm regularly in touch with.

So, my three questions, which I would appreciate a reply to:

1. How do you define "friend"? In a MySpace sort of way, or does it actually mean sharing some substantial thing? (Or am I just missing the point of MySpace?)

2. Can you be friends with people you haven't met, that is, electronically? I contend, much to my surprise, yes.

3. Does the isolation of American life - longer commutes, busyness, distance from the core family - mean that the report is right, that we do have fewer friends, or is it merely a definitional issue? Certainly, school is a great way to meet potential friends, at least in my life, but I think the number of my friends would certainly have diminished had I not been involved with church and other organizations, and (OK, I'll say it) this blog, which has been a way for me to keep in touch with people when I wouldn't have otherwise (no Christmas cards sent two years in a row).

Songs stuck in my head:
Friends-Beach Boys
Can We Still Be Friends-Todd Rundgren

4 comments:

huddlepuddle said...

hello my name is amber (huddlepuddle) im going to new york on holiday so if u could email me whats it like and stuff and some attractions i would love it thanks again and bye
my email is hunnybunny10008@msn.com

Scott said...

1. I don't define true friends in a MySpace kind of way. There are however people that I call "internet" friends. But even so, those are very few, just like real friends.

2. Guess I answered this one already. There have been a handful of people that I met through the internet, and some have become real friends.

3. I think the isolation-ism of America has certainly helped dwindle the amount of friends. But maybe not so much isolation. TV has become a bigger and bigger part of everyone's life, as has the internet. Even couples with kids found time to hang out with friends before. But now the free time they have is spent on-line or in front of the TV. I think kids becoming super-active doesn't help adults either. Sure, they meet other parents, but it is only at the events that their kids are participating in. It becomes a real effort to get together with someone because there is so many schedules to meet.

Gordon said...

1) I think a "friend" is anyone with whom you feel comfortable in sharing time, emotions, and your presence.

2) Yes, it's possible - a bit tough, but possible. There are people with whom I am very close, but only touch base with via phone, e-mail, etc.

3) I believe that we have becoming an increasingly isolated/isolating culture, focusing on our immediate needs without stopping to "check in" with others. We don't relate as well as we should, and rarely (if ever) take the time to relax and enjoy others company.

Of course, I'm an embittered loner, so what do I know? :)

Anonymous said...

I'm a hugely social person but I don't have children but I think I will continue being social when I have them because my mother was the same way - always having people over for dinner, talking and raising a glassa into the night. But, I also spend a good deal of time alone.

So, let's see, how much time do I spend with someone other than myself and my S.O. in a typical 168 hour week living in NYC?

52 - sleep (6-8 hours a day)

42 - in front of the computer (counting work and after-work, about 6 hours a day)

15 - other unaccounted for including dinner if we sit down for it, gardening, futzing, walking, taxi time, long breakfast out at a diner, Sunday NY Times

14 - phone (two hours a day - mostly family calls)

10 - together with friends (lunching, having them over, meeting for a drink after work)

10 - reading the paper while working out

7 - reading in bed (averages an hour a day)

7 - showering, make-up

5 - cleaning and nesting around the house

5 - shopping, errands, post office, organizing life

1 - in front of the television, usually to watch Super Nanny while I sputter for an hour at the collective clueless of these BAD PARENTS

Curious to know how everyone else spends their time???

- Sarah