We looked at each other with a mix of tenderness and befuddlement, moist-eyed. It was clear to both of us, after the five or ten minutes of our hasty conversation, that this chance meeting was the last time we ever were going to see each other. I would never find myself in Yekaterinburg, and he wouldn’t be returning to New York or coming to Montreal. We wouldn’t have seen each other, either, had he not recognized me a few minutes ago in this unlikely locale, in the middle of a bustling New York bookstore.
They may not actually see each other again, but thanks now to the presence of social networks, one of which was mentioned during their conversation, I expect both would be staying in touch though.
You need to know where to meet foreigners. I can tell about Abuja at least. Go to play readings and art exhibitions organized by embassies. It doesn’t matter if you do not really care about plays or if you think Australian art is just a waste of space. Join the hash. The hash is plenty of white people running or walking, wearing similar colours, drinking plenty beer and doing things you will find very strange. Don’t be a bush person. Google the hash and learn their terms. Find out what “Hares”, “On-on”, or “Down-down” mean. Sometimes there is a small fee you pay. Don’t be stingy. Pay up and mix with foreigners.
As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.
While probably not sanctioned by the social network, an app, EnemyGraph, created by Dean Terry and Bradley Griffith of the University of Texas, allows Facebook members to show their short term disapproval of people, and media or events as well I presume.
Last month he and a student released a Facebook plug-in called EnemyGraph, which users can install free and name their enemies, which then show up in their profiles. “We’re using ‘enemy’ in the same loose way that Facebook uses ‘friends,’” Mr. Terry explained. “It really just means something you have an issue with.”
If you’ve wanted, or had, to break apart a friendship for whatever reason, you may have been left feeling that a move to another city, or country, was the only sure way to end matters…
With a click of a mouse, you can remove someone from your friends roster and never again see an annoying status update or another vacation photo from a person you want out of your life. Not so in the real world. Even though research shows that it is natural, and perhaps inevitable, for people to prune the weeds from their social groups as they move through adulthood, those who actually attempt to defriend in real life find that it often plays out like a divorce in miniature – a tangle of awkward exchanges, made-up excuses, hurt feelings and lingering ill will.
Your email account, not surprisingly, says a lot about your relationships with people in the outside, or real, world. But rather than the quantity of messages you send to a particular person being an indicator of how close they are to you, it is the speed with which you respond to their messages that says the most about your connection to someone else.
But then Uzzi and Wuchty tried something new. Instead of looking at the absolute values for volume and response, they looked at the response time – that is, the time it took for a sender to respond to e-mails from different contacts. The new method predicted who was in different employees’ social networks with an accuracy that is several percent higher than the other methods, the duo report online this month in PLoS ONE. What’s more, by examining precisely who had the different response times – friends, colleagues, or acquaintances – Uzzi and Wuchty uncovered a more telling pattern. It turned out that the fastest responses went to friends and that the slowest responses went to acquaintances, with colleagues somewhere in between.
That would be par for the course though, wouldn’t it?
How do you think you would fare if you tried to strike up friendships with people – who are pretty much strangers – as you might add them as friends on Facebook, or follow them in Twitter style… in real life?
The number is highly debatable, but it turns out that, Facebook aside, the average person has about 150 friends – people he or she might actually recognize and be recognized by at a random airport, 150 people he or she might feel comfortable borrowing five dollars from. As for how many friends we have evolved to “need” in a more intimate sense, that is a different matter. According to Dunbar, most of us have, on average, about 3-5 intimate friends whom we speak to at least weekly, and about 10-15 more friends whose deaths would greatly distress us. These circles can include kin; indeed, the more extended family we keep in close touch with, the fewer friends we are likely to have – precisely because our neocortices can only manage so many relationships.
A news article stating that some 40% of single people living in NSW would consider entering into a marriage pact, whereby they would marry their closest (in most cases) opposite-sex friend for the sake of companionship, were they still single by a prescribed age, such as 30 or 40, caught my eye last weekend.
Keep-me-company marriage pacts are far from being a trend that has become manifest in the last year or two though, and if a Salon article dated November 2003 is anything to go by, if we aren’t in such an arrangement ourselves (I must have missed that memo), then we know of someone who is.
They’re often made in jest, but according to Cathie Gray, a Washington couples therapist, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if more people made good on them. “What makes a marriage really work over a long period of time is companionship,” Gray says. The two people “trust each other, they respect each other, they feel emotionally safe with each other. I know of people who’ve made these sort of pacts, and the upside is you’re transitioning into a relationship called marriage with somebody [where] there’s a secure friendship. That’s a positive. The deficit is [the feeling that] the pact is made out of a default rather than an active choice.”
Using data from the Faith Matters Study, a survey of U.S. adults conducted in 2006 and 2007, Lim and his colleagues found that 33% of those who attended religious services every week and reported having close friends at church said they were extremely satisfied with their lives, while only 19% of those who went to church but had no close connections to the congregation reported the same satisfaction.