by Ryan Morgado
If there’s anything I can echo as a young adult having moved to a new city, making new friends is difficult. When you aren’t a student anymore, there aren’t thousands of people that are ready and willing to put themselves out there and be vulnerable with new friend groups. But, there are plenty of articles talk about the difficulties of making new connections, and my experiences have been about on par. I wanted to focus in on something a little different, long distance friendships I have. It’s a topic that’s been on my mind as of recently, so, I going to talk about something I like, something I don’t like, and something I just find interesting about long distance friendships.
Disclaimer: I consider myself relatively pessimistic about the impact that technology/internet/social media/etc. can have on us. But, what I do like that technology in 2016 has provided me is an extremely easy way to stay in touch with my friends anywhere in the country. It has even gone as far as to rekindle a friendship that had been in embers for many years, we’ll call him Davion. Davion and I pledged at the same time to our fraternity. He was one of my closer friends throughout college and we only became better friends as time went one. Davion, being a few years older than me, graduated about a year and a half before me. He quickly moved on to the adult world and moved to the other side of the country. There was no bad blood between us, he simply moved on with his life and we didn’t stay in touch.
Fast-forward 3.5 years. I am on my brand new Playstaion 4, and I find out through Facebook, that Davion also has a PS4. I send him a friend request on the PS4, and just like that we are connected on a medium that transcends time and space. It doesn’t matter that we are thousands of miles and a few time zones apart, we are able to sit down, chat, and slay a few zombies together. It’s refreshing to be able to talk with Davion on a regular basis, but we, being Davion and I, agree that this likely would not have been possible without the technology we have available.
While there are plenty of opportunities to connect with friends in a digital space, there is something to be said about being geographically close to those you socialize with. There are a few different groups of people I was close with back home that, when I was in college/high school, I would hang out with all the time. Now that I’ve moved away, many of those conversations have turned into group skype chats, facetime, etc. When I make my returns home, it becomes my responsibility to initiate hangouts. Sometimes I’ll see them one night, and find out they went out to lunch as a group a day or so later.
I don’t mention this to lament over my friends “not caring about me anymore”, in fact I don’t think they care about me any less than before. Since I’m no longer a constant in their life, I’m no longer a “default” person to reach out to. Me coming home is a rarity, and I am no long a part of their routine. This absolutely has an impact on me, since I miss the reciprocity of the relationships I had with many of my friends back home, but I know it’s not out of malicious intent.
Food for Thought
For those of you who have moved away, there are many different types of long distance relationships that I’m sure you’re familiar with. These can vary from “attached at the hip” to “laissez faire”. It’s a fact that I simply find fascinating, and I appreciate that I can have different communication styles with many different friends. I don’t think that my relationship with my friends who I only talk to when I make my biannual trips home are any less real than the friends that I talk with on a weekly, or daily, basis. A common phrase that’s tossed around when talking about the laissez faire friends is, “we just picked up where we left off”.
Although I’ve put time and energy intro processing what it means to have long distance friends, I don’t really know a tangible way to explain why these work the way they do besides saying that these are people I’d like to keep around for years to come. So, what do you all think makes this work? Do you share in any of the thoughts I’ve had between what I’ve liked and disliked about long distance friendships, or have you had different experiences?