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Tuesday, September 09, 2003 

I've become increasingly aware of a disturbing trend in our society these days. Despite the seemingly unlimited modes of communication, the ease of movement and travel over short and far distances, and the mass quantities of people inhabiting small areas of land, there are too many lonely people. Occasionally I'll peruse the ads and posts on Craigslist, which is very popular here in the San Francisco area. I've noticed a plethora of posts from people looking for someone to connect with. Some people have recently moved, others have lost touch with other friends over the years, some have worked too hard for too long only to find that when the work slows down, there's nothing left. These aren't low-lifes, freaks, nerds, criminals, or unlikeable people either. They're often people who would make good friends.

I must admit, I find myself in common company with many of these people. After leaving high school, I left behind some of my high school friendships. Not because I didn't care, but because many of those people were moving in a very different direction than I (some were going absolutely no where), and with college starting, it was going to be hard to maintain those friendships. Other friendships just sort of died from neglect - people moved too far away, became too busy, and lost touch. Of course, I never forgot any of those people, or what they meant to me. And some of them I've even recently gotten back in touch with in an effort to rekindle the old friendship, or at least share some old memories. Since I didn't live on or near campus while I was in college (I lived with my parents a few cities away, and commuted to school every day) it made it harder for me to make friends. While most people were forced to meet others in the dorms, I only had my classes. And it wasn't easy meeting people there because there wasn't much time for socializing in class. After two years, I finaly joined a campus club. I met a lot of great people there, and made some new friends. But it was hard to really grow those friendships because I lived so far away. And when I graduated over a year ago, many of those people moved on too. Some people went right into work, some moved back to their parent's house, some went on to grad school elsewhere in the country. I keep in touch with a few of the people on a regular basis, but once again, many of those friendships just drifted apart.

And it's not like I'm not trying. Often I feel like I put more effort into keeping touch with people than other do with me. I'm usually the one to write the email, or make the phone call to see how the person is doing, even when it's been two or three years since we last connected. Sometimes something comes out of it, sometimes it's just nice to catch up. But, I've realized that sometimes old friend's don't have room for you in their lives anymore, and that's why things died in the first place.

But when you lose a number of friends, it leaves you with this empty hole. And filling that void can be difficult, as showcased by the posters on Craigslist who write the equivalent of single's ad's - except that instead of looking for a date, they're looking for a friend. I wonder how successful that is for them.

In a way though, it makes sense. Making friends is a lot like dating. It takes time to get to know a person and decide whether or not they're someone you'd like to keep around. The whole process can be very similar to dating as well - going out to pre-planned events, asking interview type questions, fretting over making the right impresssion. Shouldn't meeting new people be easier than that?

And how bad is it when people feel they have to resort to posting friendship wanted ad's on bulletin boards? It just goes to show how closed people are in real life. You walk down the street and see someone that looks like they'd be interesting to meet, but you can't just go up to them and say "hey, would you like to be my friend?" It's a little easier when you're in a more structured environment, like work, but even that can be tough. Some people can be very closed off in those environments as well. Almost like they're adverse to connecting with new people. Yet, the people who bemoan the fact they have no friends often seem just as closed as everyone else.

Personally, I try to combat it by being open and friendly to everyone. I've met some great people that way - though some of them aren't people I could see myself hanging out with on a Saturday night. But even with that, and making efforts to meet people, it still seems so hard to make new friends. I'm tempted to write to those people in those posts, just to see what comes of it.

It just doesn't seem to make sense that it's so hard to find good friends in a time when meeting people is easier than ever before, and when you're constantly being exposed to new people every day. Yet, many of us walk around in our own closed little worlds, oblivious to what else is out there, and uninspired to test other waters. What are we afraid of? That we might find someone really great? I sure hope that's not it, because it would be a true tragedy to miss the opportunity to make a true friend, which is something everyone needs.

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  • I'm Dani
  • From San Francisco
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