21 March 2014

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: What can we reasonably expect from friends?

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: What can we reasonably expect from friends?

Although in my opinion to the topic is not easy to analyse, it is
certainly one of the most useful topics we can engage in. In the
meantime Ruel has sent a link to his essay and I have written a few
ideas on the topic.

Hi Lawrence,
Here´s the link to an essay I wrote for the next PhiloMadrid topic:

Thank you and see you on Sunday.


What can we reasonably expect from friends?

This must be one of the most difficult questions to examine and answer
in philosophy or other disciplines. Never mind what we mean by
reasonable what is clear is that today's idea of friends and friendship
is very different from what it might have meant a few decades ago.

Social media and the ease of electronic communication has made it easy
to meet new people, have a meaningful relationship with them, for
example people with common interests, and even progress from "friends"
to more intimate relationships. The opus operandi of friends and
friendship must surely be familiarity. The more familiar we are with a
person and the more we know that person the more we are likely to be
friends with that person; if there is a will to be friends. What the new
technologies have done most of all is to change the language of
friendship and the social interactions of friends.

The clear change in meaning of friends and acquaintances has certainly
blurred the lines of who is close to us and who we know. Maybe, even the
word acquaintance is losing its value in social media. Buddies, pals and
mates have also gone through some changes of their own. One of these
changes is in their use; today with digital communication these informal
terms are being used more with people who we are contacting for the
first time.

And to confound the issue, with more non native speakers of English
using English to communicate on the internet the rigid classical meaning
of terms and words is fast being lost. This creates problems for both
native and non native speakers. Native speakers, at least those not well
trained in the arts of speakers of English as a second language, don't
know whether to be insulted when some terminology is not used in its
natural habitat of the native speaker, or to be even more confounded.
Non native speakers of English have the added difficulty of keeping up
with a language that is evolving way too fast thus making it more
difficult for some people to communicate effectively. Having said that,
I do believe that, in the medium term, there will be a natural selection
of people who can or cannot communicate in a second language. Thus,
calling someone a friend on a social media site does not necessarily
mean that you can call them in the evening and expect them to come over
to have a look at your latest stamp collection!

Indeed, social media have also blurred the cultural boundaries of what
is friendship. For example how long should we wait before we can call
someone a friend? And more important how long should we wait before we
can impose our needs on these "new friends"? Some cultures might
consider someone to be a friend the second they meet them and expect to
impose on them immediately, others take decades to establish friendships
and maybe never expect to be imposed upon!

In the meantime, there is always the legal meaning of what is
reasonable, but this is not very useful for us here. Slightly more
relevant for us is maybe to equate reasonableness with what is
acceptable in a society. Remembering that for many millions of people
they belong to and operate in a real life society as well as a virtual
society that is held together by the exchange of information. Today,
useful information can be as valuable as cash itself. For example,
comments left by people who stayed in a hotel might save us money by not
booking a holiday with that hotel; or maybe the hotel is indeed a real

One of the consequences of being familiar with a person we know is that
we can on the one hand predict, with certain degrees of success, their
behaviour as well as any unpleasant behaviour, at least not of the
disastrous kind. Thus, we develop some form of immunity against our
friends' unpleasant behaviours that we can tolerate and even forgive.
This also means that we should also be sensitive enough to know what is
acceptable to expect from friends and what isn't.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.__com.es/
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at
Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: What can we reasonably expect
from friends?

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