The National Friendship Crisis

Posted on July 9, 2013

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You know the 450 Friends you have on Facebook? The ones who comment on all the photos of the babies and puppies you post? The ones who are wearing out their thumbs liking every thought you share from your daily inspirational calendar? The ones who never seem to forget your birthday? They are a myth.

According to the latest research on friendship, our true friendships are as fleeting as those encountered by your average despot, when the military comes knocking at his door. The finding will have you reassess every time someone says, “I’m here for you,” then jets off to Cancun.

According to getlifeboat.com, 75% of Americans are not truly satisfied with their friendships. Sixteen percent are not confident in their friendships. Four percent have best friends who have turned them in to the police on at least one occasion.

While Gen Xers are the bottom of the barrel in friendship satisfaction (just under 20%), boomers run close behind (just over 20%). Sixty-eight percent of respondents would like deeper friendships, as opposed to 32% who would simply like to increase the number of friends they have.

Both menWhat is surprising is the  and women share the same requirements for friends.  What is surprising is the hierarchy. While 80% of people require loyalty and decency in a friend, only 73% require that their friends like them and 68% would like their friends to be fun to be with. This writer seriously worries about all those folks out there who prefer to have boring friends who don’t want to be with them.

And finally, let’s return to Facebook, where there exists a belief that deep and meaningful friendships can be based on posting daily photos of what one had for breakfast that morning. According to the Atlantic Monthly, there is a fear that “Facebook is interfering with our real friendships, distancing us from each other, making us lonelier; and that social networking might be spreading the very isolation it seemed designed to conquer.” In other words, by using Facebook, people will doom themselves to a life of ennui and pasty skin, by being forced to live in a sunless, rat-infested garret, overlooking the blinking neon lights of a seedy bar. (Reader note: This writer is inordinately pleased with herself to have used the word “garret” for the first time in blogging.)

If you have a fear of rats and/or neon, you are in luck. This study finds no clear relationship between number of Facebook friends or Facebook usage and friendship satisfaction regarding number of close friends. You may return to Facebook with abandon, taking comfort in not knowing who the hell most of your Friends are who seem to have a deep interest in all aspects of your virtual life.

If you aren’t on Facebook, you have another problem entirely. You are forced to interact with actual human beings, who on occasion may have poor hygiene and/or recommend movies to you that really suck. This writer can’t help you with either issue. She has her own friend issues to worry about, notably a remark made by Now Husband that her friends are merely being polite and not actually enthusiastic when she entertains them with her endless stories. Now she must reassess the value of her friendships. Or of Now Husband.

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