Suzanne's Second Estate

A web log of my thoughts, activities, life....

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Where Have All the Friends Gone?

I posted this on the Line a few days ago, but I've been thinking about it ever since.

In "Look at All the Lonely People," Christianity Today considers the decline of friendship in American society. The article begins:

In Norman Rockwell's classic 1943 painting, "Freedom from Want," an extended family is gathered around the table to celebrate a holiday feast. Fast-forward 63 years to Thanksgiving 2006 and — while lack of food is still a problem for too many in this land of plenty — you are much more likely to find want of a different kind. More and more Americans are starving for significant relationships.

The article highlights a study published by the American Sociological Review that shows a "remarkable drop in the size of people's core network of confidants — those with whom they could talk about important matters." Twenty-five percent of Americans reported having no confidants at all — up from 10 percent in 1985. The article relates this trend to the decrease of marriage:

Perhaps the same thing that is sabotaging marriage is undermining friendship: our increasing unwillingness to commit to relationships that require sacrifice, mutual accountability, and a generous share of humility. That refusal is often not so much willful as fearful.

People may fear the commitment friendship entails, but they remain fascinated with it. The long-standing popularity of TV programs such as Cheers, Friends, and now Grey's Anatomy — which portray the lives of people in multilayered friendships — signals that fascination.

The article ponders what it might take for the church to hold that same fascination for a lonely culture. Reaching the lost, the article concludes, may be as simple as being a friend. Perhaps it's being a friend that is not so simple.

I'm thankful that I have a healthy number of confidants. But this article made me reconsider the nature of my online relationships, such as those on myspace. As fun as online "friends" can be, deeper, face-to-face relationships should not be neglected.


At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Kelsey said...

I really like this blog.

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

I, too, am so grateful to the Lord the wonderful, godly friendships He has given me. I don't know where I would be without my confidants! I was at a women's retreat this past weekend, and one of the speaker's talks was on just this subject, of the importance of having confidants! A timely message, for sure...

At 10:11 PM, Blogger Carmen said...

But sometimes, your face, I do not see often which point I have friend.


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