1. Beth

    Lovely! I thoroughly enjoyed this essay. I have trouble using the word “friend” in conjunction with FB for the very reasons you so eloquently discuss. Some of my friends are on FB with me, but FB’s “friending” process has nothing to do with their being my friends . . . “Acquaintances” just doesn’t have the same ring, though . . .

    I would note that few men’s organizations now exist because feminist agitators have declared them to be sexist. Women can have all the organizations they want today; but a men’s book study was driven out of our small-town public library because it was “exclusive.” 100 to 1 says a similar women’s group wouldn’t be given a second thought. And how sad this attitude, because, as you say, men “do things together” — but political correctness destroys their opportunities to create friendship in this natural way.

  2. Marc V

    Good article. I was trying to articulate a point about family trees and the roots we develop to the 3-5th grade boys class I help teach on Wednesday night.

    “We have these deeper friendships because we’ve tried to build a life in one place.”

    Replace “friendships” with “family ties” and it would get to the point I was trying to make, where family traditions and ethnic “practices” are on the wane because of family dislocation. The thought of family reunions 70 or so years ago would seem silly as families generally lived in the same area. The pursuit of material gain and individuality has been society’s loss as people cut the threads of the things that have historically grounded them.

  3. AAJD

    A fine piece winsomely expressed–as usual. The prospect of a forthcoming memoir is most interesting, and I shall read it with great relish.

  4. Ron Cox

    Tony, thanks for the stimulating WSJ essay. I liked the Berry quote an awful lot. I need to read your essay again to make sure I got it all, but I resonate esp. with what you write about men’s difficulties in friendships. Its proven true in my life. However, you write: “If friendship is the key to happiness, then maybe this is the key to friendship, to be enmeshed — not just tangentially or voyeuristically, but physically — in the lives of others.” I feel (now and at times before) something like a voyeur into your life – a life which you’ve made selectively but brilliantly available in your blog entries and your WSJ essays; still, its your life and there is no chance of an actual doing things together (even if I lived near by, you’d at least still be on your own with your snake). While I thoroughly enjoy your writing and resonate with your experience of raising 4 boys, isn’t there a sense where this is just another Facebook experience via a different medium? Am I not guilty at some level of experiencing a ‘friendship’ of sorts when I read your blog entry, a ‘friendship’ strictly on my own individual, private terms? This is not an indictment of you or your writing (I too look forward to your memoir). Rather, its just a question about me and probably an inchoate one at that. Oh well…all to say, thanks.

  5. Donna B.

    Being a sort of curmudgeonly recluse, I have very few friends, yet my Facebook page says I have 50+. Look at those closely and you will note that 40+ of them are relatives.

    Some of my relatives are quite clearly also my friends. I think first of my grown children. I think I am extremely fortunate that they are now my best friends. I can call them for advice and it will honestly offered or I can call them to rant and rave and it will be heard, no matter how incoherent… and they can laugh at and with me about most anything.

    The rest of my relatives and I share enough background that we can find common ground on even those things we adamantly disagree on. We are family and that trumps a lot of life’s petty disagreements.

    I have even been fortunate enough to become friends with my children’s in-laws. How cool is that?

    So… yeah, none of this is exactly responsive to your post except to say that I’ve found more friends through family connections than any other.

  6. nichole

    One of my New Year’s resolutions in 2009 was to get to know my Facebook friends better. I’ve noticed in conversations people now n qualify a reference to a friend as a “Facebook friend.” I assume that means someone they know, but not really well. I hoping to change that to some degree, but I agree that deep and lasting friendships can only be had by immersing yourself in someone else’s life and vice versa.

  7. Russell

    Fantastic article on friendship. Really hit home for me. My wife (soon to be ex) keeps telling me that she wants to move back to where we have our old friends. I don’t think I understood the impact of her request until I read you story.

  8. Simpson Snail

    Wonderful article, so true. I don’t understand older folks who have spent their lives in one place who want to retire to somewhere else. What about all their social connections? I tell my husband not to even mention making me move from here, I love my friends, and they weren’t easy for me to make. By now I know who my real friends are, who I can depend on for this, and who I can call for that. I love facebook, too, and I so enjoy getting to keep up with and learn the details about friends who are more tangential. I think it helps forge deeper relationships with them, too.

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