Rhonda asked me to do this, I hope she’s not disappointed with the result.

A little background to start. When I began medical school I met new people and made some new friends. One of the new friends I made was Ruban Gnanakumar. We were destined to become friends. He’s Hindu, I’m a Mormon. He’s single, I’m married with three kids (two when I first met him I guess). He’s going to be a rich radiologist (and rarely actually see patients), and I’ll be a hopefully financially stable family doc (seeing lots of patients – if things go well). You’ll see soon why I’m telling you this. I’m not sure why it exactly started, but every now and then when I read something interesting on the internet I send a link of it to Ruban. Over the past few years I’ve sent him lots of links, here’s a sample:

1. An article about new research on MS (I won’t comment about what I think about this)

2. A “This American Life” story about a Chinese guy that patrols a bridge to stop people from committing suicide. Strangely compelling stuff. I should add that “This American Life” is about the best podcast out there.

3. A book’s website that assesses social trends in the U.S. and claims that people are becoming isolated, in the sense that they only associate with people who hold the same values and viewpoints as themselves.

4. Even an obituary about the famous research patient HM

5. Lots of it has a medical slant to it, but I send him other stuff as well. Like an interesting article about E.B. White who is most likely best known for being the author of Charlotte’s Web (the first interesting thing about him is that he’s a he – I always thought the Charlotte’s Web author was a she)

Well, that’s more than enough random background.

So, similar to what I do with Ruban, I thought I’d find an interesting link and pass it along for the blog post and make a few comments about it. Today, I came across something about friendship and so that’s the topic for the rest of the post.

1. The article I came across gives a brief review of how the concept of friendship has changed over the course of history and then explores the current status of friendship. He’s a bit academic at times and may exaggerate the impact that the internet and particularly websites like facebook have on friendship. However, he says some interesting things about friendship in the different stages of life and shares some interesting tidbits like this, “A study [from 2004] found that one American in four reported having no close confidants, up from one in 10 in 1985.” I see people around my stage of life who struggle to have meaningful friendship amongst all the other demands of life and some of them use the internet to establish, maintain or nurture friendship (I have no idea if this is good for friends or not)

2. A number of years ago Marlin K. Jensen gave a talk about friendship. The whole talk is worth reading, but here is a sample quote, “I think in all of us there is a profound longing for friendship, a deep yearning for the satisfaction and security that close and lasting relationships can give.… if the consummate Christian attribute of charity has a first cousin, it is friendship. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul slightly, friendship “suffereth long, and is kind; [friendship] envieth not; … seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; … [friendship] never faileth.”

3. I can’t talk about friendship without mentioning Rhonda. Our relationship began as a friendship before becoming romantic in nature as well. Many things have changed around us over the years we’ve been together, but during that time she’s always been my best friend. I also have the good fortune of watching Rhonda be a good friend to many other people.

4. Again from the Jensen talk he said, “I think one of life’s most satisfying accomplishments for my wife and me is to have lived long enough to see our children become good friends.” He’s lived much longer than I have, but I enjoy being able to watch our kids develop friendship. Alden and Lucy sometimes clash, but it’s great to watch them laugh and have fun together – which they do pretty regularly. Eli has also recently been establishing himself a bit more in the family and now whenever he hears Lucy get upset he grunts, “hug” and will find her to give a brief hug. He then checks to make sure it worked – it often does.

5. Rhonda often likes to end with something to get people to make comments, so I’ll try to do the same, perhaps a poll of sorts. Does the internet (i.e. facebook, blogs, etc.) enhance friendship or just provide a weak substitute when other interactions are too difficult to fit into the rest of life?

One other thing I’ll add about my friend Ruban. I’ve probably sent him over 50 links in the past few years that I’ve known him. He’s never read one of them.