“Andrew, this is the last hello and goodbye I’m ever going to say to you”
I don’t know how on earth I remember this, but I do. It was sometime during primary school, whilst I was in the second grade. These were the words from my best friend at the time that still ring through my mind to this very day. I remember his name, the games we played with purely our imagination in the playground and the exact moment when it all fell apart. This was back when I was but 8 years old, so no social media, no mobile phones so no way of keeping in touch. I didn’t understand it at the time, so we played the same game we always did (pretending we were the mice in “Mice Bikers from Mars”) and the day ended and he was gone.
I never heard from him again. Ever.
We’re strangers now. I tried finding him on Facebook, just to see how he’s been, what he’s up to, how he grew up. But it’s been 17 years and I don’t know what he looks like, where he lives, what his interests are. He could have died and I wouldn’t know. This was my best friend. And yes it was only second grade and emotionally speaking, I wasn’t quite emotionally mature enough to understand what losing a best friend meant or the impact it has on one’s life. But I do now. Without David, I don’t know what I would have done. We had our fights, as all friends do, but at the end of the day there was the unconditional, forgiving, innocent friendship that always brought us back together. Until that wasn’t enough. There was nothing I could do.
Isn’t it quaint? How easy is it to let people, who once meant so much to you, go? And none of that bullshit “if you let them go then I guess they weren’t that important to you”. We have no control over the people we hold dear, and what happens to them. In the modern age, it’s so much easier to maintain an illusion of friendship with people you once knew that it’s even easier for them to become strangers. How many people have you met where you find a somewhat kindred spirit and chat endlessly for a while, only for that friendship to slowly fade back to being nothing more than an acquaintance. A best friend to just any other friend. Or from someone to noone. Everyone has done this.
There are no excuses any more. If someone is your friend, goddamn rise up and treat them like one. The illusion of being connected online via social networking gives us the misguided message that because its so easy to reach out and re-establish communication, that you will always be able to do so. That being “friends” online means that you’ll always be that way.
That’s all bullshit. Friendships are what you make of it. Friendships are the result of time, effort and communication. Don’t be the idiot who gets asked if you’re friends with someone, and all you can reply is “I guess?” or “I think so?”. Let your friends know you’re there, that you care and that you give a damn about your friendship. Don’t let people you care about slip away. Don’t you dare. It’s not that fucking hard to message people and ask how they’re going. If you don’t care enough then that’s fine. Let them go, no big loss to either of you. But if you do, then stop going through their goddamn pictures and get your freaking keyboard out and send them a message.
There are no more excuses. Time to step the fuck up.
I’m going to start saying hi to people I care about. Find out what they’re up to. Find out how they’re going. Let them know that they’re my friend and I give a shit about what’s happening to them. That even though, the only medium I have to communicate with you is through pixels on a screen transmitted over the internet, that I embrace them as someone in my life and that my life would be less without them.
I’m not that young any more but I’m not that old either. I still can’t believe it took me 25 years to figure it out though. That’s almost 1/3 of my life it took for this message to get through my head.
I’m going to put this into perspective for you guys. I’d say that if you take your average twitter conversation between friends, excluding wait time between messages, the time it takes to have a conversation is what… five minutes maybe? Let’s go with ten for arguments sake. On a good week I’d probably have that conversation maybe three to four times. Once again, for arguments sake, let’s go with four. That’s twenty minutes per week, so 17 hours a year. The average life expectancy for a male in Australia is 84.6 years. For simplicity, let’s say that gives me 60 years to go. Using a calculator gives me 1040 hours of conversation with a friend. That’s 43 1/3 days which is about a month a half.
Let’s put that into perspective. The working day is normally considered a 9am-5pm haul with an hour lunch break, so a 7 hour work day, therefore 35 hours a week. Most people will probably ended up working more, but once again for simplicity’s sake let’s go with that. If a month is four weeks (it’s actually longer) then in a month, one would work 140 hours a month. Now going off that 1040 hours of conversation, that would give you 7 1/2 months of work. That’s less than one year. At my job I often see the same people day in day out and haven’t really spoken to them often, yet I would have seen them more often than I would have spoken to a friend.
Another perspective. What if you were told someone you cared about only had 43 1/3 days to live. A month and a half to live. That’s freaking terrifying.
For arguments sake, let’s double the amount of time you invest into conversation. You’d get three months. Triple it you get four and a half. How little is that?
For our generation, instant satisfaction often comes at the click of a button. Food, shopping, entertainment, even intimacy (yes I’m talk about sex). But you know what hasn’t changed? That’s right, you guessed it.
Goddamn, motherfreaking friendships. We’re given all these tools to reach out and form relationships all over the world in ways that we could only dreamed of when we were younger, but we abuse this privilege assuming that people will always be there, until one day you find out they aren’t.
So take control. The power rests in your own hands to shape and forge relationships as you will. Don’t be lazy. Get out there and show people you care, whether it’s a celebrity you idolize, your parents and family, or a friend you met via twitter on the other side of the world.
Step up and reach out.
For David E. Although we aren’t part of each others lives any more, you’re still teaching me how to be a better person. Thank you. I miss you and I hope everything turned out better than you could have ever dreamed. I’ll never forget you.