A key finding from a major study of adults’ lives was that those who had close, long-term friends fared better than those who were less social. Close friendships enhanced moods and functioning as well as emotional and physical health. Friendships have to be cultivated and nurtured to be meaningful over years. Social media supposedly enable people to make new friends via sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and myriad others, but unfortunately some of these online friendships are more “virtual” than real. Many of these “cyber-bonds” are often anything but meaningful, and can actually be a way of not engaging deeply with others. In the guise of generating friendships, the Internet can ironically serve to keep people apart. Social media can never replace the authenticity and intimacy of face-to-face interactions. Good friends are open, genuine and honest with each other. They tolerate each other’s frailties, appreciate their differences, and honestly criticize when necessary. Over many years, they participate in each other’s celebrations and marriages, and in their children’s and grandchildren’s milestones. They are there for each other during illnesses and setbacks, and some are left to mourn the losses of their dear old friends, almost as a loss of a part of themselves. You know that some of the feelings and experiences you shared with friends during good times and sad, are among your most cherished memories. In Sondheim’s beautiful song Old Friends, an old friend says: “Here’s to us, who’s like us?” Simply put, good friendships are some of the best stuff of life.
Published on Feb 12, 2016