February 13, 2011

Bulk view

On friendship and getting better at it

A quiet week led me to thinking about friendship and how I can learn more about it. W- and I are both introverted and we spend most of our time at home. I need to make a deliberate effort to get together with people. Otherwise, it slips off my radar.

Why am I thinking about this? I see the close friendships my mom has developed with my ninongs and ninangs (godparents) and with people throughout the world. I think about the laughter and openness of my barkada (clique of friends) back home. I reflect on Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics and what he shares about friendship. It’s a good thing. It enriches life.

I plan for the long-term when it comes to finances. I can certainly invest the time and effort into developing something deeper and more important than that. I know that if I’m left to my own devices, I’m probably not going to make much progress, so deliberate action is worthwhile here.

I have friends. I’m also aware that I don’t get to see those friends very often. There’s a bit of asymmetry, too, which I thought about again at Lotusphere. It’s easy for people to know about the significant events in my life, and even the day-to-day details. I don’t have that same sense of awareness about a lot of people, and I’d like to develop it.

There are so many people I’d like to get to know further. I want to help make their lives a little better. I want to help them ask interesting questions. I want to learn from what they’re learning along the way. It gives me pleasure to think about them and to hear about their lives. Even focusing on people I already know will give me plenty of opportunities to learn about friendship – and then there are all these fascinating people I have yet to meet. In other words, it’s not you, it’s me. =) I can work on me.

Thank goodness many people use Twitter and Facebook to share what’s going on. The fragmentary nature of these streams mean that I get glimpses into other people’s lives, but they’re interleaved with other updates. I sometimes find myself flitting from update to update without a deeper sense of each individual person.

So I’m thinking of working on this from two aspects: online and in-person.

Online, I’m trying out tools like Gist that give me a social dashboard which aggregates news, organizing it by person. I set aside time to think about other people, learn more about what’s going on in their lives, take notes, and reach out. I set aside some money for the little differences I can make in people’s days. I switched to a phone plan that includes international text messages, too. I’m also going to more regularly check and respond to personal mail (hi!).

In person, I’m deliberately looking for experiences I want to share with other people, and for opportunities to learn more about people’s interests. This is a bit more of a stretch for me because I like spending time at home and I hardly ever eat out. (I once attended a New Year’s Dinner and found myself thinking I could host a decent party for the cost of my meal.) I’ll probably start with movies and opera, and maybe look into setting up lunch or coffee with people.

Have you worked on learning more about friendship? Have any thoughts to share?