Friday, September 11, 2009

MicroFriends

I have been thinking more and more about the nature of friendships, and how some friendships last a lifetime, while others last a year. Some start reluctantly while others are instantaneous. Some are so context sensitive that moving jobs or towns spells the end of the friendship, while others seem to transcend space and time. All are wonderful and make life complete, but one of the lessons I learned early in my adulthood is that a friend need not be perfect in every context or for all time in order to be a good friend. My friends from high school were great friends, even though we are not close anymore. My dinner buddies might not be my work friends or my clubbing buddies or my shopping buddies.

One type of friendship, however, is intriguing me lately - the microfriend. A microfriend is someone with whom you click, in a very short, defined context. You might not even know his or her name. Often you never see them again. But, for that short interaction, you both had fun. 

For example, when you go to a friend's birthday party or wedding or baby shower, and you meet people who, realistically, you'll never see again - but during that event, you got along famously. Logistics, time, interest, or even total lack of shared context prevents a "real friendship," but for that period, you both enjoyed a positive relationship. Or when you're lucky enough to have a great seat-buddy on a plane. Or when the shop clerk and you spend 15 minutes discussing whether the gift you're buying is appropriate for the occasion. 

Trying to extend the microfriendship to anything more than that is often a mistake. Only once have I grown a friendship from such an interaction, with very limited additional shared context (no mutual friends, ongoing events, etc) - (and we joke that we picked each other up at a religious event!) Otherwise, in the spirit of savoring life in the present, these friendships should be enjoyed and appreciated for their ephemeral nature. 

I am going to look harder for microfriends in my life - and welcome them in. They add variety, new perspectives, and typically, a whole lot of fun.

1 comment:

Priya said...

that is so brilliant! new york is littered with micro friends. i've had soooo many of them.