Are you my friend?

Can we rebuild our social networks to help us grow or do we have to start over again?

You can't choose your family but you can choose your friends.  I believe this statement to be true, but I think very few people actually choose their friends, rather they fall into the trappings of convenience and availability.   We allow our geography, legacy relationships, cultural ties, and religious comfort zones to dictate the most important thing in our life, our friends.  I believe that the internet is eliminating this forcing function but the question is, are we taking advantage of it, now that we have a choice are we choosing?

I've had the great fortune in my life to move several times from city to city and been given the opportunity to start over and reshuffle the deck of my personal relationships.  I've found that many of my connections had been maintained in the move, several faded and many new ones were built with a new hopefully wiser value set. Some of my choices were wise and other times I've fell into the same misguided trappings of geography, culture, and agenda based connections.  I've come to find one guiding principle in choosing my friends.  I simply look to spend time and be generous with people that I admire.  I seek out people who possess qualities that I would like to steal. I've found that I did not need to be a thief to acquire these qualities but that they would instead be given to me in return for generosity and care.

As a child I remember being enchanted by people who had wealth or power and assuming that becoming friends with those people would give me the same, only to find that via friendship these were non transferable assets that quickly fade over time or come with strings attached.  Instead, as I grew older I started to focus my desired relationships on happiness, thoughtfulness, care, and ingenuity and quickly learned that these are the liquid exchange of friendship. I realized that you do become what you surround yourself with, if the later are the assets you appreciate and admire.

I recently began to assess my social media relationships and realized that in the youth of my understanding of the power of these networks and the depths of the relationships they would forge, that I had made similar childish choices about my connections.  As I built my virtual friend-base I simply looked to find people that I knew without even thinking about who they were or who they had become and I added them to my network.  I was under the false impression that more friends was better when in truth the value of one good friend supersedes a million acquaintances.  My social network had become a political campaign to be be liked, followed, or friended back. I also realized that the convenience and portability of these networks were creating ever present valueless connections that were migrating with me to every new network I joined.  I had been polluting my consciousness and creating an echo chamber of opinions and values that were distancing myself from who I am and who I want to become.

It's very easy to complain about the signal to noise ratio on our social networks and blame it on the network itself.  But in truth the only person we have to blame is ourselves.  We are letting the noise in and sometimes creating noise for others. I am going to embark on the path of reChoosing my friends and social network relationships. I no doubt will make mistakes and probably hurt a couple people's feelings.  Time will tell whether this endeavor will add value to my life or just piss people off.  I know this won't be easy but a good friend once told me it's just as important to think about who you leave off of the bus as it is to think about who you let on.


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