The Many Facets of Friendship

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by Mike Ugulini

In the daily drama and comedy, that is life, it's nice to have friends. While family is extremely important, friends are a different support system of your choosing. As the saying goes, "You can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends." Choosing them wisely can make your life more exciting and inspiring.

Deciding whom you choose as your friends says as much about you as it does them. You may choose your friends based on similar interests. You may choose them because you're both polar opposites of each other and find this interesting and intriguing. Often, friends become "friends" because they naturally gravitate towards each other because of similar personalities and temperaments. Sometimes it's just circumstances that bring two individuals together who then become friends.

Whatever prompts a friendship, developing one is a very rewarding experience. This is especially true when, before you know it, a certain friendship turns into a unique lifelong close friendship. Again, it's been said that a person normally has only a couple of very close friends in their life. Think of whom you deem as truly close friends. These are those select individuals you can confide in and share deep thoughts and concerns with, without any reservations.

However, while you may have a couple of close friends, it doesn't mean you can't have many friends. These friends fall into different categories for lack of a better term. It doesn't mean they're not important people in your life. It just means you have a different kind or level of friendship with them. Here is a rundown of the different types of friendships:

Traditional Friendships

As mentioned above, you will have those few special close friends whom you share more with than you do with others. Of course, there are the many other friends that populate your life. You connect on a regular or semi-regular basis with them, as they are a significant part of your life. You engage in activities with them, such as movies, concerts, sporting events, and such. You enjoy their company and they enjoy yours. You support each other's triumphs, achievements, as well as defeats.

While maybe not quite as intimate with these friends as you are with your core few close friends, these people are no less important to you. They are a major aspect of what gives you a well-rounded support group and fulfilled existence. You make time for these friends and schedule aspects of your life to coincide with theirs; otherwise, you'd never connect and share life together. Making time for them precludes that they are a vital part of your life.

Colleagues

Colleagues are often friends because of your and their station in life in terms of work, associations, clubs, and the like. In fact, a Funk and Wagnalls definition of colleagues is "A fellow member of a profession, official body, etc., an associate."  Colleagues are friendships that came about because of your involvement in something.

You became part of an organization based on professional or other interests. In the course of engaging in this organization's activities and meetings, you developed relationships. These relationships may stay at the colleague level. However, they may develop beyond the parameters of the organization. These colleagues may indeed become friends with whom you meet up with outside of organization functions. In addition, one or two may even become very close friends down the road.

Acquaintances

Acquaintances are a different kind of friendship in that they often do not develop further. With an acquaintance you are usually familiar and conversant with an individual, but not on any significantly deep level. You know a little about the person, what they do for a living and such. Normally, an acquaintance is someone you've met at a social function or through a business or work-related meeting.

You may have also met this individual through a mutual friend, or through an organization that you devote time to away from work. You may run into this person at irregular intervals. Typically these meetings are not with the intent to meet the person, you just happen to "run into them" and end up conversing. You find it pleasant to talk with this person and vice-versa. You engage in general chat and share ideas as befits the circumstances or event you are attending together.

Acquaintance friendships are respectful relationships with no promise of further meetings. You and the other person take them for what they are - a chance to enjoy time and conversation with each other - as you happen to meet up during the course of living your lives.

Online Friendships

With the burgeoning social media platforms on the Worldwide Web, online friendships are all the rage in the digital age. From Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and more, meeting up online and becoming friends is the 21st century way of connecting fast. Online friendships mean no in-person contact, but some online friendships develop into a 24/7 access and availability, especially if you're a nighthawk.

In an online friendship, you're talking one-on-one across the digital divide. You can text chat, e-mail, all without ever seeing the person. Of course, you can send photos and engage in live video chat as well. You can have deep and involved conversations and get to know someone quite well online. It's letter writing gone modern, with moving images to go with it as concerns streaming video.

We'll look at online friendships further in our September issue.

Friends of all types have a way of enriching our experiences. Even when disagreements or other issues sometimes arise, in the end, having friends contributes to enjoying life more fully. Paraphrasing an old song:-

"Make new friends, but keep the old, the new ones are silver and the old ones are gold."