In a world that is so virtually connected through technology that relationships such as friendships are fostered online, the definition of a real and true friend can be hard to find. Technology and social media have changed how the society defines friendships, and what signs people can use to show that they are real and true friends. Social media, for example, has made it possible for people to have hundreds and thousands of friends, most of whom do not share the connection upon which conventional friendships are founded and based, and are essentially viewed as mere contacts. These friends show their friendship by reacting positively to their friends’ social media posts and tagging each other in posts. It can be difficult to gauge the extent to which these friendships are considered real and true friendships since some of them are based on real concern for each other as with conventional true friendships, albeit rarely.
People have varied understandings of friendship and what makes one a true friend. Smykowski outlines several elements that determine whether a one is a true friend or not. She says a true friend is one who stands up for someone they consider a friend when they are hurt, either emotionally or physically. By standing up for their friend through actions and words, they make sure that they are safe. In addition, they stand up for their friend even when it is not convenient for them by compromising and making sacrifices to make sure they are safe.
She further maintains that such a friend also has to be authentic and honest. Here, a true friend shows their real selves and are honest with their friends when such honesty is needed. For this reason, they refrain from deceiving people they consider friends because they understand that honesty would work best to make them better people. Agreeing with these assertions, Minger believes that a true friend is not afraid and will not hesitate to voice criticism in an honest way when it is needed. This position was included in a response to Mike C. Jackson, a fellow author, who had criticized Mingers’ understanding of his works in a previous write-up.
Additionally, a true friend will seek to influence those they consider friends and with whom they associate closely to be better versions of themselves. This complements Smykowski’s claims that a true friend wants the best for their friend. She explains that a false friend may want to push one to make adjustments for them and give them feedback that they would want to hear rather than feedback that would be of help to them. Further, Smykowski also maintains that a true friend appreciates and acknowledges their friend’s feelings and seeks to steer them towards happiness.
In sum, real and true friendship is fundamentally subjective and for one to be a true friend, they have to adequately attend to the interests of people they consider friends. In a confusing world of social media, where the term ‘friend’ refers to a contact, showing real friendship through actions can be difficult given the virtual environment. To be a real and true friend, one ought to stand up for their friends, be honest and real with them, criticize them when needed, and help them become better versions of themselves.
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