Friday, May 07, 2010

In some cases, real friendship is open and closed

Today my Facebook friend list hits 500, and today Soo Inn posted his weekly commentary which starts with this sentence: "You have 500 friends on facebook. How many friends do you have?"

Either Soo Inn was trying to remind me of something or he just thought that the number 500 is a good gauge to consider 'many' on Facebook.

Earlier in the week, a friend told me that she has lost another friend. I asked her why. She said that an overseas (currently) ex-friend has just deleted her from her Facebook friend list. So my friend emailed her ex-friend to inquire. Her ex-friend replied that she has too many friends on her list and needed to shrunk it to those who she "keeps in touch."

Well, everyone does that once in a while. I did that too. But what caused my friend unease is the fact that she was deleted but not her sister and her brother-in-law. Her ex-friend consider my friend's sister and her brother-in-law as friends who she keeps in touch but not her despite she knew her first before the two.

My friend was troubled. I tried to comfort her. I told her that it is more important to have 3 real friends who are close rather than 3000 friends on Facebook list. I told her that I have three close friends, and she is one of them. She felt better after hearing that.

Soo Inn listed 5 levels of communication that mark the level of friendship. The deepest level is one where "[individuals] experience strongly their sense of belonging and sharing . . . without defensiveness or barriers. Openness, transparency, and self-disclosure shapes the flow of the conversation [with each other]."

Looking at what I have experienced in the past two weeks, I realized that in some context there can be no full openness and transparency even among real close friends. Everyone has their own secrets to keep. Sometimes these secrets cannot be shared for good reasons like to protect another person's integrity; in most severe cases, to protect another person's life (more common in espionage movies).

In such cases, the burdened person cannot even share with his or her real friends who experience strong sense of belonging and sharing. Perhaps in some cases, we just don't have real friends or we mistakenly thought we do. But let's assume that we really do have real friends. In this case, it is not that we don't share because we don't trust our friends, but the welfare of another person takes priority. It means carrying a burden with no outlet to let it down even for a while. One may see this in the character of Alfred in the movie The Dark Knight. He burned Rachel's letter written to Bruce Wayne in order to protect the latter after Rachel's death. And we all know that Alfred is the only one who understands Bruce Wayne the most. Sometimes, it is precisely because the friendship is so real that we cannot be transparent.

I don't disagree with Soo Inn's wise, clear and (not to mention) timely piece. Perhaps what he wrote is in a different context in mind. But what he wrote helped me to think through what I am going through. And writing it down here helps me to see what am I thinking.

One may meditate over the internal sorrow and struggle that Jesus had within him when he purposely delayed his visitation over Lazarus in John 11. He had to let his good friend go through death. He couldn't tell anyone about his plan until after Lazarus' death. The mere thought of letting Lazarus die instead of healing him right away was consuming him inwardly. Yet he knew that's his calling. And there are some among us who are called to take that way.


Michelle said...

One thought that came to me as I read your blog, that one of Jesus's inner circle that betrayed Him...Judas Iscariot. He was one of the 12 disciples and he was also one whom Jesus sent out to preach, heal and deliver. Even in the Scripture, it says that not every one who call me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven. The best friend that we will ever had is Jesus, for He is a true and faithful Friend!

jedibaba said...

Yea what I meant was that you can share at that level if you need to, not that we share for the sake of sharing. But my fear is that, for many of us, we have no one to share at that level at all even when we want to.

Sze Zeng said...

@Michelle, thank you for the comment. I agree with you on that. Jesus Christ is the best, true and real friend :)

@Jedibaba, Joycelyn (my gf) says that she agrees with you too :)

reasonable said...

Some things could not be shared with some friends but could be very well shared with strangers, hehehehehe ;p