Friendship Is Modern

by Patrick Appel

William Deresiewicz traces the history of the relationship. Like Norm Geras I think Deresiewicz too bearish on friendship and his argument that Facebook is destroying friendship is ridiculous, but this is worth pondering:

Modernity believes in equality, and friendships, unlike traditional relationships, are egalitarian. Modernity believes in individualism. Friendships serve no public purpose and exist independent of all other bonds. Modernity believes in choice. Friendships, unlike blood ties, are elective; indeed, the rise of friendship coincided with the shift away from arranged marriage. Modernity believes in self-expression. Friends, because we choose them, give us back an image of ourselves. Modernity believes in freedom. Even modern marriage entails contractual obligations, but friendship involves no fixed commitments. The modern temper runs toward unrestricted fluidity and flexibility, the endless play of possibility, and so is perfectly suited to the informal, improvisational nature of friendship. We can be friends with whomever we want, however we want, for as long as we want.

The final section of Love Undetectable is a reflection and defense of friendship. It remains one of my favorite pieces of writing by Andrew, or by anyone.