In the times of digital friendships, there are so many ways to express and show who stands where in your life.(Unsplash)
In the times of digital friendships, there are so many ways to express and show who stands where in your life.(Unsplash)

Famous friendships and reckoning: How to be a friend in times of social media

Happy Friendship Day 2019: Social media image is clearly a very difficult one to maintain for many but how about following some basics to be a real person, a real friend.
Hindustan Times, Delhi | By Srishti Jha
UPDATED ON AUG 04, 2019 09:45 AM IST

Friendship is one complicated relationship and over centuries and decades, a lot of effort has gone into preserving this relationship in particular. There is so much to prove, there is so much to fight and of course, there is so much to love. The cultivation and restoration of it is an ongoing journey. Friends are family we choose mostly and it is always better to be friendly than going through the whole drill of being unfriendly. The latter is more work. Some friendships are mere accidents and some pure magnetic attraction, some are very cordial and some are just romantic. While some remain easy and understood, some always dwell in the intensely turbulent zone. “We are good friends”, “We are close friends”, “We were good friends”, We are still friends”, “We are friendly”, “We are family”, many of these proclamations define the many levels of this relationship. So, while walking down the many lanes of the friendly universe, I planned to revisit some iconic friendships.

I began with reading up a lot on friendship, not to restore my faith in the idea but to understand the whirlwind around this equation that has so many layers. Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh, two of the most prominent names from the Post-Impressionist era shared a friendship that lasts around 60 something days. Two very contrasting personalities shared a supremely competitive relationship. While many say that their friendship was doomed from the very inception, some also believe that it led Gogh to cut off the lower part of his left ear. They had a lot of respect for each other and were very aware of each other’s power in terms of their work and beliefs. The ear-cutting was understood mostly as an expression of anger that Gogh felt towards Gauguin and he took it out on himself. Don’t we all sometimes? Don’t we all have momentary mourning episodes where we can’t handle disappointment in friendship?


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Many such friendships like John F. Kennedy and Frank Sinatra, Helen Keller and Mark Twain, Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, Michael Madhusudan Dutt and Gour Dass Basak, Saadat Hasan Manto and Ismat Chugtai, Rabindranath Tagore and Jagdish Chandra Bose, Krishna and Sudama, the only thing that remained in common was this mixed palette of similarity and dissimilarity and the vulnerability that all the duos felt in each other’s presence. In those days, expression anything was a tough call. Writing letters, guarded disagreements and most importantly, occasional silences won many battles for them during their friendship.

Back to the present. These are the times of digital friendships and there are so many ways to express and show who stands where in your life. Tagging each other in memes, sharing GIFs, comforting selfies, night-out pictures, travel check-ins, #BFFgoals, reserved like buttons, all these elements show the world who means what to you. The hierarchy is well-defined and it marks the territory of #mytribe for many of us. But that brings me to a very simple question. Are we really in touch with who are friends really are or what are they battling? What is really behind that reassuring smiling profile picture posted that tells you that your friend is doing just fine? Many times, we forget the basic practice of just reaching out to that person right ahead of the hearsay and the pre-conceived clouds in our mind. There is also jealousy and the weird politics that gets in the way. The digital world has fortunately or unfortunately got us quite confused about the idea of expression. Either there is guarded co-dependency or there is extreme reliance. There are constant fights for approval as well as the claiming to lead a better, well-adjusted life than the other. In the middle of all this, have we forgotten how to be a friend? Beyond being a good or a bad one; just a friend, like young kids.

Social media image is clearly a very difficult one to maintain for many but how about following some basics to be a real person, a real friend.

- Be real. Be as real as possible. Never give a wrong impression of yourself regardless of being right or wrong.

-Lookout. Have your friend’s back and not be on the sidelines waiting for the final collapse and then lending them a shoulder to cry.

-Avoid politics. Don’t put up something with an intention of making a friend jealous. Such energies go a long way. You have no control over the repercussions. This experiment can go wrong on many levels. So, avoid.

-Talk more, post less. If you feel that the only update medium is your friend’s social media handle, it’s time to pick up the phone and chat. You will figure out topics naturally.

-Avoid competition at all costs. It’s human to compete; feeling left out and procrastinate over achievements and failures. But there is always a better way of going forward. Your parallel is not your competition as such. Don’t be a self-proclaimed victim in friendship as the caused emotional distress is beyond help. An honest conversation is a must here.

- Don’t hesitate to apologise. It mends many things at many levels. Things you aren’t even aware of.

Inclusive conversations, numerous cups of tea and coffee, hugs, books(or whatever you like), laughter, keepsakes in physical and mental forms and infinite unpredictable moments; that’s all we need. For friendship. For life.

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