Sunday, November 5, 2017

Real Friends Are Disappearing

Real friends are beginning to disappear is the topic of an article in the Kyeongyang magazine by a university psychology professor. He begins with the story of a student who was in the States studying for a doctorate at a time when a telephone call to Korea was expensive. Receiving his degree he was fortunate to find a teaching position at a small rural college but the loneliness was overwhelming. He missed Korea, acquaintances, and food. On the spur of the moment, he traveled for about an hour to buy a container of kimchi which he devoured with tears flowing freely.

In our present world, this situation may be hard to understand. SNS and the internet allow instant communication and all kinds of friends. The very definition of friend changes. Friends were not easily made; a lot of time was expended and according to the  French: like a good wine the longer the friendship the better. 

Thanks to SNS contacting friends is easy but at the same time making friends is no longer what it was. The ending of friendship is easily done on both ends. To keep the friendships going requires a lot of time the more friends the more time and a feeling the friendships are superficial.

Worse, is the time spent with those friends online the less time spent in the real world with those you are relating with offline. In the real world when a topic of discussion ends we have a period of silence until another topic is introduced with the smartphone this dynamic is not so readily experienced.

The writer mentions being in a restaurant when a family of three entered. They selected a table and the mother and daughter were busy with their smartphones and the father with his newspaper. Mother and daughter ate with the smartphones in their hands. After finishing the meal the father mentioned it was time to go but the daughter did not hear and continued sending a text message. The only words emitted during the meal was the ordering and the father reminding the family the meal was over. A family meal with the smartphone.

This scene is not so infrequent as we would like to believe. Lovers both sitting down at a table with their smartphones in their hands: personal interaction, place of contact in the here and now, has moved to another location.

Benefits from the smartphone are many. However, they will never replace the human contact with another person that we all need. Frequently we need to put the smartphone down and look straight into the warm eyes of another. It is there that we will be feeling the warmth of another person's heart and mind.

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