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Friendship over age

Amy Ma's picture

Co-authored  with Yancy

How do people become friends? It occurs to me (Amy) that I don’t intentionally make friends, but just become friends with certain people after living, studying or doing other things together for a while. It is one personality that chooses another personality. So choosing friends is actually a subconscious process. The principle of making friends is “Let it be.” If two are meant to be together, they will finally be together. From NW, it is obvious that Leah and Keisha are very good friends from childhood to adolescence, but their bond became weaker as they grew older. Is it because of they are different initially or they become different as they grow up? How does their relationship change during time? Is it because of age? Is it because of different experience?

“In childhood, friendships are often based on the sharing of toys, and the enjoyment received from performing activities together.”(Wikipedia: Leah Hanwell was a person willing and available to do a variety of things that Keisha Blake was willing and available to do.(NW. Zadie Smith 209) That is how they become friends initially. Children have less concern of attitudes and values, and care more about if they can play together.

As they grow older, their attitude plays more important role in their relationship. A study by researchers from Purdue Universityfound that friendships formed during post-secondary education last longer than friendships formed earlier.(Sparks, Glenn ,Study shows what makes college buddies lifelong lifelong friends. Purdue University)At the more significant age for friendship, they show different attitudes toward things which indicate the change of their relationship: they are no longer the children who talked about 37 in bed together before.When facing their A level exams, Keisha and Leah showed totally different attitudes which means they were on the ‘different roads’: While Keisha was studying every weekend, Leah was taking the ‘popular club amphhetamine Ecstasy’.(NW. Zadie Smith 227)Leah chose to abort the baby because she did not want to ‘continue’, not preparing to live with and take care of a baby. But when Natalie got a baby, although the baby was not in her ‘syllabus’, she still left the baby.As Leah stays who she wants to be, Natalie/Keisha becomes the person who other people expect her to be. “Natalie noticed with anxiety that Leah’s stories had no special emphasis or intention.”(NW. Zadie Smith 353) It is anxiety that indicates Natalie cares about the relationship between Leah and herself, but she finds herself not understanding Leah’s stories.

Though they all miss the intimacy they had during childhood, their relationship never goes back because they are already different. Also from their surroundings, their different friends circle, we can also tell they are not the same. People who have different values gain diverse friends during the life. Companies workers won’t play with presidents because their attitudes and values lead them into different groups, and when they in the group, they attach different things in the daily life which will influence their interests. When Leah takes part in Natalie’s party, she and her husband did not know how to communicate with those bankers or lawyers there: they felt awkward and uncomfortable in the party. Leah and Natalie, at this time, they even cannot be as close as before, because when they were young, at least they could play together.

As one grows up, the more important thing in friendship is basic value and attitude. Those who can become true friends with us should be the one who share the similar value with us, including political perspectives, social perspectives, the opinions toward fame, just and base line. If the values between friends are different, even though they hang out or do other things together, they don’t feel comfortable around each other.

But it recalls a paragraph from the reading “So Much in Serendipity for Personalized News” that says, “Those who read only what they identify in advance end up narrowing their horizons; they may create echo chambers of their own design.” “When like-minded people speak only with one another, they tend to go to extremes, thus aggravating political polarization.” Does it mean that we should have friends with different attitudes and perspectives? But if the attitudes are different, how do they become friends? Or is this kind of friend just the one who to discuss different opinions with but not considered a real friend?