Mark D. Roberts

Mark D. Roberts

Is True Friendship Dying Away?

This is the title of a USA Today opinion piece in today’s edition. The author, Mark Vernon, has recently published The Meaning of Friendship. Here are some excerpts from his article:

Indeed, we might feel as if we are suddenly awash in friends. Yet right
before our eyes, we’re also changing the way we conduct relationships.
Face-to-face chatting is giving way to texting and messaging; people even prefer these electronic exchanges to, for instance, simply talking on a phone.Smaller
circles of friends are being partially eclipsed by Facebook
acquaintances routinely numbered in the hundreds. Amid these smaller
trends, growing research suggests we could be entering a period of
crisis for the entire concept of friendship. Where is all this leading
modern-day society? Perhaps to a dark place, one where electronic
stimuli slowly replace the joys of human contact.


Yet we know that less is more when it comes to deeper relationships. It
is lonely in the crowd. A connection may only be a click away, but
cultivating a good friendship takes more. It seems common sense to
conclude that “friending” online nurtures shallow relationships — as
the neologism “friending” itself implies.

If there is a secret to close friendship, that’s it. Put down the device; engage the person.

What do you think? Is Vernon right? Or is he overstating his case? Do electronic media help your have deeper relationships? Or do they foster a greater number of superficial ones?

  • Jim Huckabay

    I recently returned from a high school reunion in my small home
    town in Texas. One of the girls in my class of 1954 had put together
    a cookbook, throughout which she had sprinkled many pithy
    quotations. The one that grabbed my attention the most, and was
    so fitting for a reunion, was this:
    “The most valuable antiques are old friends.”
    It saddens me to think that such treasures might be lost in our
    current “electronic-friendship” age.
    Jim H.

  • Pat

    I suspect this will be an ongoing debate, but I think it is possible to start a virtual friendship that blossoms into a “real” relationship–one in which people do meet in person and grow in the amount of intimacy they share. Rather than put the blame on the medium, I’d say the people themselves have a part to play. Do they make efforts to go beyond the clicks to something more substantial? And what about what social media has enabled that years ago would have been horribly time-consuming? Nowadays, one can reach a large number of people in a very short amount of time and in some instances get people mobilized around various worthy causes. Let’s not forget that letter-writing has had its downfall what with “Dear John” letters which allowed a woman to dump her beau without having to wait until she saw him. I suspect there are flaws with whatever medium we use.

  • Paul

    I wonder if the loss of personal engagement is much deeper. It’s not the devices that de-personalize us. These are merely tools used because we’ve loss our sense of long-term relationships. For the few friends that I have now more than 30+ years, there are hundreds that have dropped off the radar for no reason other than they are too busy. In fact, I would argue that electroni-mania actually can accommodate relationships; especially long-distance ones. “A friend loves at all times” (Pr 17:17a). What we lack is not a means to connect, it’s a sense of intentionality and fortitude in relationships. It takes persistent involvement with others to begin and maintain a relationship.
    I might offer…
    A friend …
    * Provides more than fleeting companionship; true friends are bound together (Proverbs 18:24)
    * Prays for you, even when you’ve offered bad counsel (Job 42:8-9)
    * Preserves confidentiality and builds trust in the relationship (Proverbs 16:28)
    * Sacrifices as much as it takes for the sake of the friendship (John 15:13)
    * Endures over time, especially when it’s hard to do so (Proverbs 17:17)
    * Values the friendship in tangible ways (James 2:23)
    * Hurts only when healing is necessary (Proverbs 27:6)
    * Does not have divided loyalties (James 4:4)
    * Weeps over loss (John 11:33-36)
    * Speaks directly and openly (Ex 33:11)
    * Is intentional about the friendship (1 Sam 20:42)
    * Helps pick you up when you fall (Ecclesiastes 4:10)
    Just thinking…

  • irawanto

    great, i’m love it :-)

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