Monday, May 24, 2010

Five and Five

Rhonda asked me to do this, I hope she's not disappointed with the result.

A little background to start. When I began medical school I met new people and made some new friends. One of the new friends I made was Ruban Gnanakumar. We were destined to become friends. He's Hindu, I'm a Mormon. He's single, I'm married with three kids (two when I first met him I guess). He's going to be a rich radiologist (and rarely actually see patients), and I'll be a hopefully financially stable family doc (seeing lots of patients – if things go well). You’ll see soon why I’m telling you this. I'm not sure why it exactly started, but every now and then when I read something interesting on the internet I send a link of it to Ruban. Over the past few years I've sent him lots of links, here’s a sample:

1. An article about new research on MS (I won't comment about what I think about this)

2. A "This American Life" story about a Chinese guy that patrols a bridge to stop people from committing suicide. Strangely compelling stuff. I should add that “This American Life” is about the best podcast out there.

3. A book's website that assesses social trends in the U.S. and claims that people are becoming isolated, in the sense that they only associate with people who hold the same values and viewpoints as themselves.

4. Even an obituary about the famous research patient HM

5. Lots of it has a medical slant to it, but I send him other stuff as well. Like an interesting article about E.B. White who is most likely best known for being the author of Charlotte's Web (the first interesting thing about him is that he's a he - I always thought the Charlotte's Web author was a she)

Well, that's more than enough random background.

So, similar to what I do with Ruban, I thought I’d find an interesting link and pass it along for the blog post and make a few comments about it. Today, I came across something about friendship and so that's the topic for the rest of the post.

1. The article I came across gives a brief review of how the concept of friendship has changed over the course of history and then explores the current status of friendship. He's a bit academic at times and may exaggerate the impact that the internet and particularly websites like facebook have on friendship. However, he says some interesting things about friendship in the different stages of life and shares some interesting tidbits like this, “A study [from 2004] found that one American in four reported having no close confidants, up from one in 10 in 1985.” I see people around my stage of life who struggle to have meaningful friendship amongst all the other demands of life and some of them use the internet to establish, maintain or nurture friendship (I have no idea if this is good for friends or not)

2. A number of years ago Marlin K. Jensen gave a talk about friendship. The whole talk is worth reading, but here is a sample quote, “I think in all of us there is a profound longing for friendship, a deep yearning for the satisfaction and security that close and lasting relationships can give.… if the consummate Christian attribute of charity has a first cousin, it is friendship. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul slightly, friendship “suffereth long, and is kind; [friendship] envieth not; … seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; … [friendship] never faileth.”

3. I can’t talk about friendship without mentioning Rhonda. Our relationship began as a friendship before becoming romantic in nature as well. Many things have changed around us over the years we’ve been together, but during that time she’s always been my best friend. I also have the good fortune of watching Rhonda be a good friend to many other people.

4. Again from the Jensen talk he said, “I think one of life’s most satisfying accomplishments for my wife and me is to have lived long enough to see our children become good friends.” He’s lived much longer than I have, but I enjoy being able to watch our kids develop friendship. Alden and Lucy sometimes clash, but it’s great to watch them laugh and have fun together – which they do pretty regularly. Eli has also recently been establishing himself a bit more in the family and now whenever he hears Lucy get upset he grunts, “hug” and will find her to give a brief hug. He then checks to make sure it worked – it often does.

5. Rhonda often likes to end with something to get people to make comments, so I’ll try to do the same, perhaps a poll of sorts. Does the internet (i.e. facebook, blogs, etc.) enhance friendship or just provide a weak substitute when other interactions are too difficult to fit into the rest of life?

One other thing I’ll add about my friend Ruban. I’ve probably sent him over 50 links in the past few years that I’ve known him. He’s never read one of them.


Catherine Dabels said...

Allow me to be first to make a comment, unless someone is doing it right now as well and types faster than me. Fast, faster!!! Anyway, I believe Facebook is good and bad. Take me for example, I spend way too much time on it which is bad BUT I get to keep up with Rhonda, whom I don't even know that well, or didn't when she moved away, which is good. I would consider her a friend and without fb and her blog we would have zero contact. I really like Rhonda so fb is good.

Also, I want my husband to do a guest post on my blog but he doesn't even read it so.....

Jewels said...

so sweet :) I love hubby-posts :)

Having moved a lot (army brat) I've got lots of friends that live far away. At different points in my life, these people were my "best" friends. Distance and time have changed that, but thanks to FB and blogs, we still get to keep in touch with each other, where we might not have otherwise. So I'm a fan. All good things in moderation :)

Lisa C said...

I agree that we can't demonize "facespace"s too much - they're just a reflection of society and (as Deresiewicz's article did a great job of demonstrating) the dilution of the term "friend". Like that guy in 11th grade biology who kept me company - and from dozing off - my association with him meant something to my teenage self. I like being able to acknowlege that - if just by "friend"ing. At the same time, though, we're making it increasingly difficult to have meaningful connections because we don't use and understand terms like "confidante", "companion", "councelor" etc. (Can you tell that I had to look up words to use as examples - prove my point much?) It really is interesting to see the rapid changes in our world - what will friendship mean when our children are adults?
I love that you brought up charity - there are so many demonstrations of this virtue other than giving money and providing free services.

LindsayB said...

i didn't read the links either reg.

LindsayB said...

ps-i'm gonna go check my facebook now.

Susie said...

seriously I was gonna say the same didn't read a one of the links. Maybe after I do 500 posts Ryan will guest post on mine too. so look out, it's gonna be oh so good and thought provoking, so stay tuned 2020

Amy said...

Good job once again Regan. Aubey will NEVER do a guest post, but hey at least he reads my blog lately and seems to approve. I keep the really personal stuff for my handwritten private journal. Anyway, I agree with Jewels, that if we keep Facebook and blogging in moderation, they're still good. For example, I ran into a friend who I used to see often and chat with often. I hadn't seen her in a year. But because we're FB friends, we had lots to chat about. It wasn't awkward. I knew she'd recently been to Hawaii, that she had a new boyfriend, that he and a daughter a similar age as hers.
I feel I know Rhonda (another example) even better because of her blog and the thoughts, ideas, crafts, recipes, feelings she shares. And we've been friends for YEARS.

Amy said...

Sorry, that "he HAD a daughter a similar age as hers".

Anonymous said...

FB is my connection to family that I can't see or hold. It keeps a link with people I many not have time to speak with but whom are still on my mind. I get a peek at the lives I wish I was living or want to be empowered to be on my own.
Friends are hard to come by as late 30 somethings. I know many people but my hand doesn't reach out to say hello like it did in my 20's. Good post Regan. We miss you guys.

Marie said...

Okay, Reg. That was a great post.

And I love that Ruban has never read one of your links. That is just so funny to me.

Kristin said...

Glad I read this....As just this morning I woke up and thought to myself I am going to cancel my facebook account (whether or not I do is still to be seen). The reason for it...I think it's a weak way to try and foster friendships, i find that to often we come to the computer instead of going to someones house. Yes, the computer is wonderful to start new long distance relationships or find old lost friends....But as a whole I think that we as a society are slipping into an isolated bubble, I don't want my children to think that's acceptable. I could write along time about the importance of maintaining 'human contact' with people....But I'll stop now and bookmark some of those links to read later.

Kristin said...

Okay,I'll just add I read the article about the concept of friendship, I loved it!....Which also equals that I'm off to facebook to see if I need to swipe any emails of friends that I have no other way of keeping in contact with, and then Im deleting my account!

Crystal said...

Too funny about your friend not reading your forwards! So - why do you continue to send them if you know he won't read them? How nice of you to post for Rhonda - I love reading 'the other side of the story'