October 29, 2012
Friends Are Friends Wherever #francisforpresidentA sappy little post by David A. Zimmerman
My friend Sarah Cunningham is running a nice little campaign right now that she's called "The Great Big Friendship Blog." Its premise is simple: We get too busy (often with our own self-promotion) to celebrate or even acknowledge the impact of people on our lives, so why not schedule it?
This little experiment of Sarah's was on my mind when I got together with Ben, an old, old friend--a former roommate and part of my wedding party--whose life no longer regularly intersects with mine. Turns out Ben has been thinking about friendship a lot lately too. In fact, I told him he should get in touch with Sarah, because he and she are thinking in similar ways, and he might want to get in on the neighborhood-by-neighborhood movement she's trying to start. And then he and I brainstormed some ways our lives might start intersecting more regularly again.
I've always thought friendship was weird. It's such a loaded concept--"Friends are friends forever," and all that--and yet it seems so ephemeral, tied as it is to where we happen to live, how our time happens to be scheduled, what circles we happen to be running, how heavily our work and family and other demands weigh on us.
Friendship is particularly ephemeral now; we change jobs and churches and neighborhoods and even states or countries a lot more these days than our parents and grandparents used to. When we hear friend anymore, we don't think of a noun meaning "someone engaged in a deep personal relationship"; we think of a verb meaning "to network; to extend one's personal brand." Thanks, social media.
In that respect, a blog--technically a social medium--seems a strange place to celebrate friendship. But subversive acts often seem strange. To celebrate friendship via social media is to defy the gravitational pull of superficiality that social media seem to exert. It is to colonize territory that has been hostile to our classic concepts of friendship. It is to shout a new rallying cry from the rooftops: "Friends are friends wherever!"
So I'm happy here to celebrate some of my wherever friends--including Sarah, whose clever brain came up with the whole experiment.
I'll celebrate Ben, who reached out to me for no other reason than he thought of me, because he's like that.
These friends and more are distributed all over the place, and some of them I may never see face to face again. But they're still friends--wherever, whenever, forever.
How about you? Any friends you want to brag on?
Get the full details on Sarah Cunningham's Great Big Friendship Blog campaign here.
Since we're still campaigning for St. Francis of Assisi to be the next president of the United States (join us: hashtag #francisforpresident), let me here suggest that friendship is a significant plank in Francis's platform. Francis values friendship so highly that he refers even to people who robbed his order as "brothers": "Let whoever may approach us," he told a fellow friar, "whether friend or foe, thief or robber, be received kindly." (Jamie Arpin-Ricci tells the story behind this quote in his book The Cost of Community.
Also check out Lynne Baab's lovely little book Friending, which explores the challenges and opportunities facing friendship in the digital age.
And finally, to colonize the divide between economic classes in the name of friendship, read Friendship at the Margins by Chris Heuertz and Christine Pohl.