‘FRIEND’ AND ‘LOVE’: TWO MOST OVERUSED WORDS
With all due respect to the powers that be at Facebook, where do they get off by using the word “friend” in such an extemporary manner? Don’t you think that other words or expressions, such as “pen pals” or, in this day and age, perhaps “keyboard pals” would be more apt for the app?
Checking with my associates at Webster’s and Oxford, the former tells me a friend is "one attached to another by affection or esteem" or "a person who has a strong liking for and trust in another," while the latter explains "the word" as "one with whom there is a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations."
In my opinion, the old bard Ralph Waldo Emerson had it right when he said: "It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them." Say something stupid on FB, and see how fast the "un-friend" link is clicked.
Another person, even with one ear, showed that as well as having one of the world’s greatest talents for putting paint on canvas, proved to us he really knew what friendship is all about. Perhaps Vincent van Gogh was thinking of Paul Gauguin when he wrote "Close friends are truly life’s treasures. Sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves. With gentle honesty, they are there to guide and support us, to share our laughter and our tears. Their presence reminds us that we are never really alone." Okay, so maybe you’re thinking those are some old fashioned ways of how people thought of friends. Uh,uh. It seems the profound singer-songwriter, James Taylor, said it best in the classic record, You’ve Got a Friend:
You just call out my name And, you know, wherever I am I'll come running (oh yeah, baby) To see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall All you've got to do is call And I'll be there, (yeah yeah yeah) You've got a friend
Perhaps someone should tap Mark Wahlberg on the shoulder and tell him to change his app users to buddy, chum, crony, or mate. Or he can ask Jack Dorsey for advice. Mr. Dorsey hit the nail squarely on head, when he defined users of his app, Twitter,as "followers." It’s far less for foreboding to "un-follow" someone, than to "un-friend" them.
The only other word in the English language more overused, or misused, is, of course, love, baby. But I won’t get into what Webster says about the "L" word, since we have all used it, one time or anot
her, when we damned well knew we shouldn’t have. Taken at its true, and intended, meaning, "Love" is a beautiful word. But when it’s used frivolously, it is reduced to a trivial four letters of the alphabet, and certainly loses its true meaning. I mean, when we say "I love my children"does it mean the same as "I love a Coney Island hot dog" or "I just loved that new Scorsese film?"
A prime example is the oft-used catch phrase of the 70s, created by Telly Savalas’s Kojak, when he uttered those immortal words to friend and foe alike: "Who loves ya, baby." With more than a million words in the English language, he certainly could have chosen something more apropos. Especially “Telly.” Born Aristotelis Savalas, a Greek-American, he only spoke Greek as a child – a language with about five million words, as any etymologist will confirm. In fact, Greeks, since ancient times, think the "L" word is so important, there are at least seven words (some put the number of ten or more) used to express it. And, as usual, they got it right. Let’s take a look at "love Greek style."
1) Eros (romantic, passionate love). The first kind of love is Eros, named after the Greek God of fertility. Eros is passion, lust and pleasure. The ancient Greeks considered Eros to be dangerous and frightening as it involves a “loss of control” through the primal impulse to procreate. Eros is an intense form of love that arouses romantic and sexual feelings.
2) Philia (affectionate love) is the second type of love, or friendship. Plato felt that physical attraction was not a necessary part of love, hence the use of the word platonic to mean, "without physical attraction."
3) Agape is selfless universal love, such as the love for strangers, nature, or God. This love is unconditional, bigger than ourselves, a boundless compassion and an infinite empathy that you extended to everyone, whether they are family members or distant strangers.
4) Storge (familiar love) is a natural form of affection experienced between family members. This protective, kinship-based love is common between parents and their children, and children for their parents. Storge can also describe a sense of patriotism toward a country or allegiance to the same team.
5) Mania (obsessive love) When love turns to obsession, it becomes mania. Stalking behaviors, co-dependency, extreme jealousy, and violence are all symptoms of Mania.
6) Ludus (playful love). It describes the situation of having a crush and acting on it, or the affection between young lovers.
7) Philautia (self-love). The Greeks understood that in order to care for others, we must first learn to care for ourselves. As Aristotle said “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.”
So, in the words of another TV icon, Sgt. Phil of Hill Street Blues: "Let's be careful out there." A "friend" is not always a friend, and, well, "love" is not a Coney Island hot dog – no matter how damned good it tastes.