Are You Unwilling to Start a Short Term Friendship?
The Scenario: You meet a person you really get along with. You share interests, laughs, world views, etc. You hang out a few times and start thinking that this person could be your soul mate or your BBF. But then you find out that they are moving 3 states away in 1 month. Bummer…
Question: Do you continue to develop the friendship knowing that it may come to a close in the very near future? Or do you cut your loses now, deciding that it’s not worth investing anymore time in the relationship?
This is a very real issue for my wife and I as we are gearing up to move a few towns north. And almost as soon as the announcement hit that some of relationships began to suffer. Despite the fact that we had just as much fun as we’ve always had, it’s like there was some unwritten but understood cultural custom that translated to “they’re moving, so we might as well move on.”
Geography (Location! Location! Location!)
For almost entire duration of mankind’s existence, geography has been the primary means by which people came together and formed communities. Sure, people didn’t necessarily like their next door neighbors, coworkers, children’s friends, etc. But these were the people that they spent the most time meeting and interacting with and therefore were the most likely places for form relationships with. Even if these relationships were built on nothing but the convenience that they just so happened to be there!
Granted, there were exceptions: pen pals, distant family, old colleagues, etc. But those took so much effort and usually required a really treasured friend to maintain that relationship.
In short, location played the dominant role in our relationships. But is that still the case now?
But, But… We Have The Internet!
As Seth Godin states in his book Tribes, the internet is causing a retribalization of people around ideas and interests instead of geography. The concept is simple: the internet means we’re no longer limited to the people in our immediate vicinity. If you’re living in Louisiana and have love for bands that specialize in japanese rap, you’re a few clicks away from having the most detailed discussions you could ever want with people from all over the world with that same, obscure interest.
I find the same is very true in my life. I have fewer and fewer friends that I interact with on a face to face basis, and more that I know only by their screen handles in IRC channels or through facebook. In fact, for almost 3 years I worked with my friend Peter Agelasto while I was in Colorado and he was in Virginia. We would spend approximately an hour per day using skype to video chat as if we were talking face to face. Did we miss something? Of course! And the 3 times we did get to meet face to face during that period of time were really fun.
But here’s the thing about my relationship with Peter… when I move to Fort Collins in a month, he’s not going to notice. Our relationship will be unchanged because it was never about geography. The only thing that ever remotely influenced our ability to interact was the two hour time difference. That’s it!
Our Geographical Relationships Are Still Different
While the trend towards retribulization is inevitable and getting stronger every day, we’ll still have our face to face relationships with people we meet solely on the basis that we happen to live in one particular mailing address versus another. And those relationships, unless they are built on a common interest versus geographical convenience, will tend to wither away when our locations change.
In unfortunate, because I will miss a lot of these people that I see on a daily, weekly basis. But I too follow the unwritten rule of “out of sight, out of mind." And so, with the move just 40 days away, I’ve noticed myself cutting these ties early because I know they will end. But my internet friends, we keep going and growing.
What about you? Do you find yourself keeping in touch with people from the various areas you’ve lived? Or do those relationships fade with time?
About Rick Manelius
I'm a Drupal Ninja (brown belt), an aspiring author, a personal development fanatic, and an overall explorer of life. I own SoundPost Media, LLC— a Drupal agency that works with small to medium sized media compaies looking to improve their presence on the web. Stick around by subscribing to my feed, following me, or simply leaving a comment below. I appreciate you stopping by!