Slumbook

A man is known by the company he keeps.

There is a great truth behind this adage, won’t you agree? Truly, you need not look too far nor search too deep to get to know someone. Get to know his friends and you get to understand the man, if not fully but to a certain extent.

But we forget, and often place too little to no value on true companionship. And why should we not? In the age where distance ceases to become a boundary, forming relationships are easy as creating buildings out of Lego’s. Most of us find ourselves constantly surrounded by people. Our friendships are no longer limited to those we get to see on a daily basis. Physical contact has long ceased to be a criterion for those we consider our friends. The Internet and the world wide Web has made sure of that.

The speed by which we can connect to other people, from where we stand to practically anywhere around the world, has multiplied by over a thousandfold from when the internet and the Web were conceptualized. Increasing connectivity and rapid information exchange has rendered the beautiful process of building a friendship practically obsolete.

Gone are the days when eyes meet and shy smiles are exchanged for the first time, when little children slowly reach out their hands to grasp the other’s in a sloppy handshake. When was the last time you actually considered what stage of friendship you and your friend are in? I doubt we still take the time to ponder if our new friend has moved from an acquaintance to a chum. Or if our chum can now be considered a close friend.

Gone are the days when we tiptoe around in eggshells trying to gauge whether person likes Beethoven or not, or if he prefers this restaurant over the other, or if he would rather play a sport than watch a movie. One need only to check a Facebook profile or leave a question at an Ask.fm profile to know the answers to all these and perhaps to questions even more private than them.

When was the last time we actually took the moment to ask our friend how she is doing? We have Twitter and Facebook for that, or if you’re really curious you can check her latest blog post. No, personal conversations have become as awkward as meeting someone for the first time. Don’t you find it becoming inreasingly difficult to look someone in the eye and tell her exactly how you’re feeling? Personally, I find myself more inclined to type everything and send it through Facebook messenger. That way, I can eliminate the need for emotions and keep myself out of the equation. Harsh, I know. But it’s reality, and I find myself hating it.

God only knows how much I missed those annoying little notebooks that my friends and I used to own. Jotting down your likes, dislikes, hobbies, and other random personal information the notebook was asking for. Slumbooks, I think they were called. They were nothing really, but they were a terribly effective way to pass the time and gain new friends while doing so. By God, it was such an important step in friendship in those days! Believe me, having someone ask you to fill out a page in their slumbook was as good as a “Can we be friends?” as you can possibly get. It was child’s play, I know. But it was beautiful.

I miss the slow process of friendship. The awkwardness of the first few meetings, the shared looks only the two of you could understand, the code names meant only for your common enemies, and the sarcasm and wit reserved only for them. How can we share looks when we spend majority of our time if not on Facebook then on Twitter? Or on some other social networking site we stumbled upon. I mourn for the loss of the “courtship” involved in making friends. I despise that friendship has been reduced to simply adding someone as a friend in Facebook, or following him/her on Twitter, or chance encounters on online forums and such. Since when has friendship been equated to long Facebook message threads, or to the presence of hug and kiss emoticons/emoji on Twitter? Are you friends simply because you have shared a secret to a stranger? Has friendship actually been reduced to this?

But just as they are easy to build, so are they easy to destroy. And this breaks my heart so. I do not know but maybe it can be attributed to the fact that friendships nowadays aren’t built on solid grounds in the first place. They were not built on years and decades of experiences. A castle does not become strong simply because it was built atop a mountain, surrounded by all sorts of defenses. No, a castle is strong because it has weathered its share of sun, rain, wind, snow, and battle only for its owners to find the nooks, crannies, and areas to strengthen, fortify, and build new ones upon.

You could end a friendship just as easily as you could start one. A simple “unfriend” or “unfollow” speaks a thousand words. A comment here, a reply there is able to create a rift between two unsuspecting victims. It’s such a tragedy that we have been reduced to this.

In the age where distance ceases to become a boundary, finding relationships and friendships that last has become as difficult as finding the ending to this sentence. And believe me, it is difficult. I’ve been staring at this for minutes now.

But friendship, along with the other aspects of life, is still an open chapter. I can only hope that Slumbooks are back into fashion sooner than later. I have sorely missed writing in those annoying little notebooks.

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