Friendly Banter

One of the most abused words in the English language today would be the word ‘friend’. Everybody has become a friend. Your classmate, your batch mate, a ‘friend of my friend’ and now even all human beings we call as ‘friends’ on social networking sites.

Most happen to be ones that we don’t even stay in touch with post that year in school, college or even post that last job.

The truly distinguishing factor that would choicely compel me to promote someone from a string of acquaintances collected over time and places, to being someone special in my life, someone whom I can call as a ‘friend’ would be our ability to be ourselves with each other.

All of us in today’s rather ruthless, personally and professionally competitive world tend to wear masks. Some do so out of choice…..a choice of hiding a true identity, of protecting oneself from an emotional onslaught, of securing something they covet. Others become involuntary victims of society’s masquerade ball.

Out of the hoarded, seemingly unending list of ‘people we know’ how many truly know the real ‘you – the man/woman behind the multitude of masks’? Only a handful.

The farce of the whole ‘friend’ concept is that most people know that they cannot be their true selves with the person in front but despite that they voluntarily extend this beautiful word to tag the soul in sight.

What is it I wonder that makes people refer to other people so easily as friends? Do they find it below dignity or respect to use ‘acquaintance’? Or is it an inherent craving to belong, to announce to yourself in the deep interiors of the maze of your mind, that you are not alone?

Makes me scratch the epidermis stretched over 22 pieces of the cranium jigsaw, my tiny cerebral labyrinth encased in it. Going by the rules made by human society regarding friends, I seem to want to be anti-social.


3 thoughts on “Friendly Banter

  1. For most people in today’s world, the meaning associated with ‘friend’ has slowly degenerated into something approximating (but below) what was the meaning of ‘acquaintance’ – the latter falling out of fashion since few of the semi-literate hordes can even remember the word itself, forget about spelling or semantic nuances. Even ‘acquaintance’ means someone you know a little bit, not just a person you met once at a get-together or sat next to on the train.

    Sadly, this is just part of the trend for over-simplification and all-inclusiveness in language – nothing much you can do except to go with the flow and make your own internal adjustments to deal with it.

    As for what the label ‘friend’ means (or used to!), it has always been partially subjective and your definition seems quite valid … though I am sure there are many who *always* wear masks (or are so weird/insane like moi that they don’t even know what is their real face) but still have a list of people labelled ‘friends’.

    The way I handle the varying semantics of this nuanced word is:
    1) If someone asks ‘Is X a friend?’ -> if not an enemy, and I know name/face then give a low key ‘yes’ response
    2) Never voluntarily call acquaintances as friends – I will say ‘this person was with me in college’ etc., not ‘this is my college friend’
    3) To hint at actual friendship, may call someone a ‘good friend’ … which is a redundant term, if you have a bad friend he’s not a friend at all!

    This avoids the dilemma of denying ‘friendship’ and upsetting people, while preserving my own strict definitions 🙂

    The question you’re posing is one I’ve puzzled over a few years ago, and as such could even comment more on it – but I don’t want my comment to be longer than the original post 😛


  2. I liked this one. Reminded me of the time in ISB&M (July) when you told me, “Priyanka, by February 2009, you and I will be friends’.
    I don’t know about you, but I put you in my friends’ list long before February.
    I’ve had no worries about my being myself with you. Any mask or farce was seemingly destroyed soon enough and I truly enjoyed being that uninhibited person with you. I can probably talk about a multitude of subjects under the sun with you. And you always know how to hit them out of the court! Lol.
    For that alone, thanks Aneesh.

    And as for you seeming ‘to want to be anti-social’…I’d just like to say, “Aren’t we all?” 😉

    Your friend (I hope)


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