In retrospect, it seems inevitable that once we decided to become friends with everyone, we would forget how to be friends with anyone.
We are nothing to one another but what we choose to become, and we can unbecome it whenever we want.
We seem to be terribly fragile now. A friend fulfills her duty, we suppose, by taking our side -- validating our feelings, supporting our decisions, helping us to feel good about ourselves. We tell white lies, make excuses when a friend does something wrong, do what we can to keep the boat steady.
We have sought to prolong youth indefinitely by holding fast to our youthful friendships, and we have mourned the loss of youth through an unremitting nostalgia for those friendships. One of the most striking things about the way the 20th century understood friendship was the tendency to view it through the filter of memory, as if it could be recognized only after its loss, and as if that loss were inevitable.
James Sloan Allen on Jacques Barzun:
Although he does not make a point of it in Dawn, he surely sees the degradation of friendship in the exaltation of self-indulgence that, among other things, signaled to him Western culture's descending decadence in the twentieth century.
Nicholas A. Christakis & James Fowler:
Each additional happy friend increases a person's probability of being happy by about 9%.
Financial progress is about learning to deal with strangers in more complex ways.
Customers seem to really like free as a price point. I suspect they will love "less than free."
There are great benefits to connectedness, but we haven't wrapped our minds around the costs.
Facebook's very premise -- and promise -- is that it makes our friendship circles visible. There they are, my friends, all in the same place. Except, of course, they're not in the same place, or, rather, they're not my friends. They're simulacra of my friends, little dehydrated packets of images and information, no more my friends than a set of baseball cards is the New York Mets.
Noteworthy in 2006:
Social networking is the 21st century equivalent of collecting baseball cards.
There's something faintly obscene about performing that intimacy in front of everyone you know, as if its real purpose were to show what a deep person you are. Are we really so hungry for validation? So desperate to prove we have friends?
Privacy, to me, is not about keeping my personal life hidden from other people. It's about sparing me from the intrusion of other people's personal lives.
Facebook holds out a utopian possibility: What once was lost will now be found. But the heaven of the past is a promised land destroyed in the reaching. Facebook, here, becomes the anti-madeleine, an eraser of memory.
Mementos, snapshots, reunions, and now this -- all of them modes of amnesia, foes of true remembering. The past should stay in the heart, where it belongs.
So many things these days are made to look at later. Why not just have the experience and remember it?
One of the surest routes to friendship is disliking the same things about other people.
In investing so much energy into improving how we present ourselves online, are we missing chances to genuinely improve ourselves?
It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection.