What Makes A Friendship?

When you connect with someone else, it can feel like magic. The start, and the deepening, of a friendship can feel both natural and exhilarating.

And yet, defining what exactly “friendship” means is not easy. For example, you want some common interests, or you won’t have a similar frame of reference. On the other hand, you can’t be too similar, or else you have nothing to learn from each other.

Similarly, in order to be friends, you need to enjoy each other’s company. So both have to be interesting (at least to each other), but one can’t overshadow the other.

You might have a friend who doesn’t like the same music as you. Or movies, or books, or TV shows. A friend might have a completely different job, or marital status, or be in a different economic tier. Or be a different height, have different skin color, or hail from a different religion or political party.

So what is necessary for friendship to arise between two people? And what is needed for that friendship to grow and strengthen? What makes a friendship?

Related questions: What makes a good friend? What qualities do you look for in a friend? Who are your most interesting friends? How can we become better listeners?

 

How Can We Encourage Meaningful Conversation?

Sometimes it seems like conversation is a dying art.

We don’t talk much anymore. In-depth discussions have been replaced with small talk. Long, rambling phone calls are now five second Vine videos. A ten page, hand-written letter is now a text message.

Why is this?

Generally, there are many reasons for this change. Technology, in the form of smart phones and social media, encourages brevity. We are warned to avoid controversial topics as a way of keeping the peace. In addition, an entire generation of young adults have grown up online, where tone of voice and body language are non-existent.

As a result, we grow ever more isolated from those around us. People are not confronted with differing opinions. We don’t often talk to people with opposing views, and when we do it devolves to a shouting match. Violence is increasingly more common. Consequently, entire communities are dismissed and ignored.

Is it all bad?

And yet, we still crave conversation. We want to be intellectually stimulated. Ted Talks, for example, are wildly popular, and can be thought of as the first half of a conversation. The vlogbrothers, Hank and John Green, are YouTube celebrities based on their ongoing weekly video chats. So the desire exists in each of us for communication of ideas, and the act of sharing them with our friends and acquaintances.

So how can we revive the art of conversation? How do we overcome our dependency on the endless Facebook newsfeed scroll, and engage each other in an actual dialogue? Can we recapture the give and take, the challenge of ideas, the talk for sake of the talk? In short, to be exposed to new ideas and new points of view?

How can we encourage meaningful conversation?

Related questions: What do we have in common? How can we encourage debate? Are we too busy? How can we become better listeners? What do you get out of social media?