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Noun: The part of speech that names a person, place, thing, or idea.

Once upon a time, the Wampanoag Indians heard some shooting in the woods.  They thought maybe the settlers at Plymouth were planning a war, in which they, the Native Americans, might be at the other end of the fire stick.

They took a rough looking group of warriors and went on over to the settlement to ask what’s up with the shooting.  The head guy at the settlement said, “We’re just trying to find some meat for a party that we’re planning.  This is the first year we’ve had a good harvest, and we’re going to celebrate.”

“Party, hmm?”  The Native Americans started to look at one another speculatively, thinking a party sounded copacetic to them.

“Yes, and we’d love it if you’d join us.  We are grateful for all the help you gave us when we first got here.”

“Great.  We accept.  And don’t worry about the meat.  We will hook you up.”

The Wampanoag and the settlers at Plymouth were friends at that time. Of course, that nice feeling didn’t last forever.  The white man got greedy and lost the friendship of the Native American in later years.

That’s something important about friendship I think.  When a friend is who you are, the demonstration of friendship is something you do.  When the demonstration stops, so does the friendship.\

sitting_texting for facebook post

Verb

  • a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence, and forming the main part of the predicate of a sentence, such as hearbecomehappen.

Verb

  • use (a word that is not conventionally used as a verb, typically a noun) as a verb.

” any English noun can be verbed, but some are more resistant than others”

Now, the word friend has gone from being a noun to being a verb.  Friending is something that we do to people, not someone we are.  And while friendships can wax and wane in the real world, in the virtual world, folks who barely know one another can play side by side in the sandbox, Facebook friends who have only met once or twice, if that.

The trend of verbing (just turned verb into a noun, but we’re not talking about nouning today) makes me feel somewhat uneasy.  I worry about children who’ve grown up in the digital age, and how they may easily trivialize the respect and commitment required of a true friend, confusing the push of a button to friend or unfriend someone as the mark of true friendship.

I’m not saying that social media is all bad. Before the internet, friends tended to have a lot in common because of geography, or social associations like church or school.  We weren’t exposed to points of view that were much outside of our own day to day lives, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

There is something good about having friends online who have different cultural or life experiences than me.  It is kind of refreshing to read about a point of view I’d never even thought of.  Even though I know spending too much time on social media can suck the productive time right out of my day, my base for viewing the world is much broader than it would be if social media didn’t exist.

What I really want to say is that friendship, real friendship, hasn’t changed that much from the days of the original Thanksgiving celebration.  If you want to have a friend, be the noun kind of friend, or at least the active verb kind of friend.   And teach your children about real friendship.  Make sure that they have plenty of opportunities to see the difference between friending and befriending.

This scene from the social network is a cautionary tale about living too much in the virtual world.

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