‘Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…
It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that gives value to survival’
– C. S. Lewis
Young people don’t hug enough, the old woman said with a smile as I greeted my best friend in the bus station with a hug. It was the first time I’d seen her since January; and I already know what you’re probably thinking- we can’t be that close if we go five months without seeing one another- but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Laura, who is a self-confessed expat, has been on the move since I’ve known her. She points at a random place on the map and then books a plane ticket, I’ve always found that inspiring and the long-distance friendship has only made us closer.
We owe this friendship to the magic of the internet- it doesn’t seem like it’s been five months since I saw her last because I see her every couple of days on Skype; we don’t need a lengthy catch up because we share every sordid detail of our lives with one another on Facebook; and we don’t have to do tears and dramatic goodbyes because we’re never really apart.
Our friendship represents new and old technologies working together in harmony. She emails me her manuscript, I edit it and post it back to her, she sends me an Audrey Hepburn postcard, and I send her links to naked men. We work with what we’ve got, but in this day and age we’ve got quite a lot.
I know a lot of people would suggest that the internet is leading society down a dark and shady path, and I’m fully aware of the dangers, but I think we don’t take the time to appreciate what we have. My parents have lived in Spain for several years now, and although I only see them for a couple of weeks a year, I never feel apart from them. Like all my long-distance relationships, I owe a large part of this to the internet and social media.
I find it’s the friends that don’t live close to me that are the ones that I find the most inspirational. I met a couple from Austria a couple of years ago and since they’ve been married they’ve given me high hopes for what my future love-life could be, friends in America and Hong Kong constantly show me how small the world really is, and my readers all across the globe invoke feelings of world-wide community- we’re connected more now than ever and I find it incomprehensible that this is seen as a negative and not a positive thing.
One thing I will admit, though, is that the old woman in the bus station was probably right. Young people don’t hug enough- but when separated by miles of land and sea, air-kisses on Skype are definitely the next best thing.