Letters of Life

Friend Is Not A Verb

In the Opinion Pages of the online New York Times, Schott’s Vocab “explores news sites around the world to find words and phrases that encapsulate the times in which we live or shed light on a story of note.”

The writer, Ben Schott, also chairs Weekend Competitions where readers get to offer definitions on anything from Friendship to Stock Market Chaos (this is a funny one.)

The Friendship Definition contest was fun to pour over, all 6 Comment pages of it.

A Sunday roast consisting of roast beef, roast...

Roast beef = Friendship

These were quite comprehensive.

C.S. Lewis declared: “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art … It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”

Mark Twain suggested: “The holy passion of friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.”

And Samuel Johnson stated: “The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roast beef.”

One commenter  said that “friend” is not a verb, and friendship is not a transaction one makes on Facebook. To be fair, exactly how friendship is “transacted” in online social media has to be defined, but even so, I think he means that having anywhere between 500 to 1000 “friends”, where at least half you only met for a total of less than a week’s hours, cheapens and undervalues the currency which friendship trades in, the currency of time, affection, acceptance, and some kind of shared history.

I was thinking about another favourite writer to share here, and looked up his quotes online.

This one is pithy and is one of the truest sentences ever written about friendship. By anyone.

Friendship is a pretty full-time occupation if you really are friendly with somebody. You can’t have too many friends because then you’re just not really friends. —Truman Capote

What’s your take on friendship? Do you agree with the quotes above? Share some of your favourite quotes or thoughts about friendship here.

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5 Responses »

  1. I used to look forward to Camile Paglia’s column in Salon. She promised to be back in Oct/Nov ’10 but never did. I find your musings a lot like hers.

  2. Hi Ming,

    I loved the blog and th quotes. Especially the one by Truman Capota. I also believe that freindship is at least a part time job and like anything else in life, one needs to maintain in in order to keep it going. It is a good thing to remember in times where facebook freidships may be mistaken for true ones.



    • Thank you for taking the time to read my posts, Miki. I truly appreciate it. And yes, I do agree with you about FB friendships. . . . its thin veneer of reality can sometimes deceive us into mistaking online warmth and jollity for sincerity and authentic friendships.

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