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Category Archives: friendship

the longer I live
the more I can see
an ancient old soul
who dwells within me

a most reclusive friend
who waits patiently
for me to cease from my fighting
from my striving to be free

to get off my throne
and with humility see
that I’m not alone
that it’s not all just me

and soon we shall meet
as we follow this way
and once again we might walk
in the cool of the day

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We seem to live in a very relative world.  Perhaps this world we live in is much more emotionally and culturally based, perceived and even defined than most reasonably intelligent people would be willing to admit.

Everything seems to be relative and equally everything seems to be very relational.  It is virtually impossible to do anything in isolation and yet so many of us feel so isolated.

Perhaps it’s how we relate that really counts.

 

Our perception is all we have and we are only one … or are we?

Even reality itself may well be completely relative, …. and this could be a very lonely, alienating thing, but it’s all we’ve got …. together.

 

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It is clear that thrown into this cocktail we are also amazingly adaptive.  This can be as good as it is bad – we can change for the better or we can change for the worse.  We can absorb open-mindedness or closed-mindedness.  Mostly we seem unaware when we do this – either way.

 

So what might this reveal about our faith? … what we believe and why we believe it?

What might it reveal about our ‘reality’?

 

… and where to from here?

 

Here is an extremely interesting video clip off www.ted.com. enjoy!

 

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

 

I tried Twitter, it’s clearly THE antisocial network … but Facebook is THE relationship illusion.

Here’s what I did: – for well over a week I tried to get some response, indeed ANY response from Twitters (what do we call ourselves on Twitter? Twits? Tweets? Twerps? Tweeters? Twankers?).. I asked questions, threw out inflammatory statements, insulted here and there …  and, …. no response – well, one or two responses at most, but statistically these were negligible.

My sad conclusion: Twitter is for the pseudo-relational who seem only interested in  wanting to post their own statements and links (and some never seem to say anything from personal opinion but only post links – perhaps to portray that they are well read and conversant with media issues – ?)  and simply seem not at all interested in any form of meaningful personal interaction other than loving the sound of their own fingers ticking away at the keyboard and the ensuing exhilarating, almost orgasmic sensation of hearing their own ‘tweet’ resounding in the canyons of their own mind as they repeat it back to themselves when they ‘proof-read’ their own brilliance.  You know what I mean, … sort of much like masturbation, really only totally self indulgent with no possibility of or any desire for fruitfulness.

On a positive note though, it is an interesting tool to gather info that otherwise would take hours of surfing and research – like the news feed tweets and a very few humerous Twits(?) who from time to time add a stimulating and even challenging angle on things.  My sincere thanks to those few – but you probably will never know who you are as the nature of the beast is what it is.

Also, if you’re a ‘fan’ type of person I do suppose you can feel perhaps profoundly and wonderfully stimulated by following the meandering escapades of some pop persona of your fantasy … but I have yet to hear a convincing argument against my view that this is equally no more than masturbation and desperate ‘soft-porn’ voyeurism of a tragically sad nature.  It may well be worth considering getting a life for yourself instead of living yours through that of some other person.  Perhaps it’s also wiser to go through one’s own underwear before rummaging through that of others.

Facebook however, is not really much better and seems determined to re-evolve (perhaps the better word would be de-evolve) into a purely telemarketing tool sans the telephone … ‘mongrelized’ (don’t look it up – I made the delightful word up myself) with an email spam and phishing scam sans the normal private/business email account.  This serves only to brutally confront any who might use the network sincerely wanting to interact relationally with other humans into being distracted under siege by flashing windows querying whether they would like to join an online dating or singles club, or making one think if the clothes they are wearing whilst typing in the privacy of their own little nest are fitting with the latest fashions and adequately insured for all risks in the unlikely event of them ever meeting one of their ‘friends’ face-to-face.
The only significant advantage in Facebook for me is that it perhaps seems to allow more interaction (albeit not necessarily that much more, but more nevertheless).  For me the interactions and exchanges on updates and notes, pictures and comments are arguably well worth it.   Not really personal contact, but interesting and engaging.

What both share in common is the caressing stroke they seem to play to the ego’s of most subscribers especially those who seem to be high on the “friends” tally.   However, at the bottom of this pile are those who can claim to be a friend of someone they deem significant even if they never will meet them (and if they did the ‘celebrity’ would clearly have no time nor concern for them anyway).  But for the hopefuls who do still wish to climb socially in life …  at the top of this same pile there is the ubber elite who can insert “full” after their page names having exceeded that mystical 5000 friends tally and then occupy themselves by spending the rest of their waking time redirecting the imaginary millions of other “friends” they are convinced will immanently want to flood in and sign up to be their intimate ‘companions’ to another “fan” page of theirs.   All I can say on behalf of the multitudes of defaced bookers is, “O’ Great Poo-Bah(s), we, the lowly, are unworthy, mere mortals … please forgive us for we know not what to do to gather like you.”
On Twitter it is not uncommon to see Twitters(?) ‘following’ ga-zillions of others only to be followed by few – my heart goes out to them. Sneakily,  as part of my ‘experiment’ I deliberately never returned the favour of ‘following’ some who decided to ‘follow’ me (seemingly one of those unspoken universal rules of Twitterville) and they soon stopped ‘following’ me then … Hmmmm??
Cynical old me!! … after all that is the spirit of marketing in our ever so evolved civilised capitalist social system, is it not? – “you scratch my back, I’ll stab yours.”

Neither Facebook nor Twitter are social networks for me.  They are base and insensitive marketing platforms taking advantage of the emptiness of relationships in our modern societies and majoring on the new age currencies of narcissism, political power and economic profit.
So, for me both are really “look-at-me” opportunistic tools … no more and no less … only perhaps Facebook has, along with it’s fractionally more interactive potential, the negative side of actively aiding and abetting distinctly more predators to prowl around, starting with Mr Zuckerberg et al and branching quickly (and exponentially) out to all the hungry 2nd, 3rd and 4th tier predatory advertisers – making Facebook, extremely wealthy ultimately at their own and eventually everyone else’s expense.


(following on from https://alalohwhydee.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/friendship/)

There are a few people in history that help us to define another angle on friendship.  Jesus himself spoke to his closest disciples and told them that they were his friends.  They never sent the equivalent of a facebook friend request because it was advantageous for them to do so nor because he was the best looking stud around.  In fact it was to the contrary.  Actually it was unprovoked by them.  It was totally Jesus’ idea.  That was a radical suggestion and a total departure from theological understanding in that day.

In the Old Hebrew texts there are also some very provocative suggestions of the friendship that seems to be of the kind God would align to.  Some of the few examples are backed by a little detail, others are just hints that leave me wondering what it actually meant.  For example, Abraham was called a friend of God.  Moses it says, was spoken to by God as a man speaks to his friend.  Some of the dialogue between the two of them is very unusual indeed.  There are other scattered hints as well.

Another one of the characters who defined real friendship was a man who lived at the same time as Jesus around 2000 years ago.  His name was John and he was the son of an old Hebrew priest.  He never went into the priesthood in any official capacity as we could tell or as was the custom of a first born to a priest of that day.  Instead it seems he led a pretty much unusual, somewhat rough, wild and reclusive existence.  He was by all accounts a very fiery character, not one most would associate with cuddly feelings and nice convenient friendship as we seem to define it these days.  This John lived out in the desert and went about telling people that the long awaited messiah, the saviour of the world, was coming very soon and that they must prepare themselves for this.  He never used vague flowery words but told all to stop living evil, wasteful lives and publicly get baptised in water as a sign of washing the filth of evil from off of them.  It was more a “shape up, or ship out” type of press release.  He never stopped there but then proceeded to tell them to live lives in keeping with this public act.  On top of all this he was particularly feisty and pointed towards the religious leaders of the day – the equivalent of our present pastors, evangelists and religious TV broadcasters.  He also spoke out against the evil social and political situation of the day and was apparently unafraid of the ruling powers at the time, saying the same to them without holding back.  He even took on the dictator of the day because of his immorality.  It was for this kind of thing that he was eventually locked up in a state prison.

One day John saw Jesus coming towards him as he was preaching and baptizing in the Jordan river.  Jesus came to be baptized by John and John was somewhat confused, reluctant and tried to resist, even humbling himself by publicly revealing that this Jesus was the one he was told to prepare the people for.  He re-emphasised that he himself was not the messiah but that he was just a lowly servant sent to facilitate the messiah’s coming.  He declared that he was not even worthy of untying the smelly sandals that Jesus wore.  His claim was clearly that this Jesus was the awaited one.

Some of John’s disciples came a little later to him concerned that Jesus was now also drawing many converts.  One can only presume that they were threatened because it may have seemed that some or even many of John’s disciples were now leaving to follow this Jesus.  Instead of accepting and responding to their concerns John simply but clearly declared that he was merely the friend of the bridegroom and NOT the bridegroom and that he was happy and excited just to hear the voice of the bridegroom.   Here John introduces the concept of friendship between him and Jesus.

It’s an interesting picture he paints for them and us.  And it clearly rattles us now as it did to them then.  John spoke of being a friend of the bridegroom.  The picture suggests from the tradition of the day that the bride is prepared for the bridegroom (of who is Jesus, by John’s own declaration) and the friend of the bridegroom is sort of like our best man at modern western weddings.

Now usually the best man is a trusted, responsible person to the bridegroom.  One who is honoured and entrusted with the purity and preparation and even protection of the bride.  A real friend, not a casual colleague and clearly not a Facebook type of  acquaintance.  Even in our day a real friend should never in any way access the bride for personal gain in any way.  The bride is betrothed to the bridegroom and the best man serves the bride and groom selflessly in this process.  Instead of deriving personal pleasure his joy is in supporting and facilitating the full pleasure and intent of his friend the bridegroom … as his “best man”  … his friend – in responsible honour and service for and towards the marriage of the bridegroom to his betrothed bride (wife to be).

To my mind this suggests an interpretation and concept of friendship that thrusts things into a whole different league.  As I have suggested, one does not search for this kind of friend on a social network like Facebook or Twitter.  If one does it is plain foolishness, vanity, perhaps even extremely dangerous.

We tend to get such personal and social affirmation by the number of friends we have.  Perhaps this seems to make us feel like we are popular and well-liked.  But John’s example though perhaps a tad radical according to my interpretation suggests that it is more than just service that he was called to but personal sacrifice.  “He must increase, I must decrease” he said. “He must become greater, I must become less” is how other interpretations go.

As Jesus’ public profile and impact increased John’s dwindled steadily.  Eventually he was imprisoned because of his outspoken statements and his last days were in darkness, frustration and even deep personal doubt.

In a short while John was unceremoniously murdered.  He never died on the front line as a triumphant warrior in a hail of bullets as he led the charge against the enemy.  He died alone in a dark, damp prison cell.  He probably heard the lock turn and was confused as to why the guards rushed in and forcefully held him down and bound him tight.  He probably never even saw the blade rise and fall as it severed his neck from his shoulders.  Chances are he never even knew his death was as a result of some young girls provocative, alluring dance and a thoughtless promise made by an egotistical, vain and foolish politician.

Just before this, while John was still alive and in prison and possibly extremely doubtful, confused and even despairing of his own sanity Jesus gave him the highest praise and accolade any man of the time could be given.  Jesus himself called him the greatest man ever to have lived who was born of a woman.

It’s an interesting story which is not fully clear in so many of it’s detailed meanings or even implications but to my mind the stark contrast of this relationship and the superficial friendships we practice and seek after in our day and in our social networking is profoundly disturbing.

These days we have social networks everywhere.  And they are on the increase.  Opportunists can see a trend and they are scrambling to capitalise on it.

Through the likes of Facebook et al we connect and network with people across the globe and across the room.  This is clearly a strong need amongst humans today.  Through these social networks we feel linked to others and we even seem to draw great security and a sense of belonging, possibly even purpose and significance from it all.  Perhaps in an increasingly alienated and alienating social system we need to feel like we are a somebody who is connected to other somebodies.

Not all of it is bad though.  Sometimes it is an interesting thing to rediscover and link up with people from our distant past, even if we don’t see them at all these days.  Perhaps it’s sometimes warming to look back and see how far we’ve come and compare notes, lifestyles, successes and failures.

Sometimes there are people and memories we’d rather not recall.  Mostly we don’t seek these out.  It could be suggestive that all this connecting is mostly about us and not others?  Maybe I’m being a bit harsh here?  … maybe not?

However, truth be told we can amass vast numbers of friends from all around the world without really actually engaging with them.  We think we are reconnected and we may even swap a few messages or comment on a status update or two but are we perhaps just playing a desperate game, even aiding and abetting a monstrous con?

Perhaps on a more sinister angle are we not perhaps willing accomplices?   Maybe we are unwittingly drawn into it all but are we nevertheless  actively participating in a profound devolution of human culture and integrity?  Are our friends really our friends?  And what would a real friend be?  And have we perhaps wittingly or unwittingly allowed the definition and outworking of friendship to be altered so radically?

There’s a lot being said these days about friendship.  Social networks like “Facebook” are interesting for me in that they can subtly point to aspects that can sometimes help us see things from a slightly different angle.

Lately we have heard some scary stories of abusive stalkers and predators and how some violate the privacy of others.  New words have popped up like phishing …  we even have viruses, or subtle marketing ploys going around on fb that lure multitudes into clicking on an “app” that can be downloaded to see who it is who is ‘stalking’ you or leering in on you, your pics, your lifestyle,  your intimacies, etc. … what amazes me is how many click on these lures.  This suggests that we are privately very interested in this, not so?  It’s almost like a soft form of reverse voyeurism (see http://www.thefreedictionary.com/voyeur) … or maybe not so soft?  Now this may or may not be true but what really grabs me is how much we choose to expose of ourselves and how willingly we seem to want to do it.

Friendship is quite a loose thing in our modern day language and culture (see http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Friend).

Many see the number of friends they have as almost a form of social currency.  Being popular is alarmingly important.  It seems to have an unmatchable value.  Perhaps this is understandable in our materialistic, marketing obsessed era.  We seem to want to market ourselves, place our personal ‘brand’ out there.  We seem to want, desire, even need to attract attention.  The quality of the relationship or the transaction is significantly secondary to the quantity.  But we have a strong role model – our king, lord and master does it – Capitalistic Materialism.  We seem to view the accumulation of true wealth in the market share we can control (or maybe it’s the market share controlling us?).

I think what concerns me is how subtly friendship has been devalued in this post-modern age of enlightenment and autonomous independence.

I have watched as my facebook ‘friend’ tally has risen and now I can see how few of those accumulated friends I have regular, meaningful and sincere contact with.  Yes, there are some with whom I share specific aspects of my life and this I personally enjoy.  I mean not everyone laughs at the same things or holds the same political or religious views.

So, what is friendship really?   What role does it play?   And what is our part in it’s apparent downfall?   Or am I mistaken and is all well?

(next part – http://wp.me/p10VG6-m8)