Should we keep our friends?

Individualism contributing factor to abandonment



In this day and age, our friends seem to rarely be consistent. Is this something we should accept?

JUSTIN WASHINGTON, Evergreen research editor

This is my first semester at WSU like it is for many others. It is my first semester at any university, meaning it is also my first time experiencing communal housing.

When I received my housing assignment back in July, I, like many others, attempted to get a different residence hall because the one I got was not the ideal living situation. 

While our university allows requests to change housing, one of the things students were told is that people in residence halls often form lifelong friendships. We should not rush to give up that opportunity for different housing conditions.

That was one of the reasons I hesitated submitting a request to change residence halls.

Call me hopeless, but I am a huge sucker for friendships. I might be shy, but I love spending time with people. 

Coming into this semester, I had high hopes I would be spending time with people on my floor and I would make tons of friends on campus.

Unfortunately for me, my attempts at a social life have been largely unsuccessful. Friends I had at the beginning of the semester have not spoken to me in several weeks. People in my residence hall know me by name and face, but despite my efforts to further relationships, plans to hang out almost never come to fruition.

It is always discouraging to go through things like this. Believe me, many have heard my woes on the matter. I always look to people for answers on what to do, but I get the same response every time: friends come and go; that is just how life goes.

The phrase “friends come and go” has become vastly normalized in our society and I cannot help but find it frustrating. Why do we all lie down and accept this? Why are we forced to be okay with the idea that friends enter and exit our lives as if we have revolving doors?

Maybe it is just my personal bias, but I find the messaging to be harmful. If we are expected to acknowledge that friends have the ability to come and go at any point, then it renders the gift of human bonding useless. There is simply no reason to put in effort with a person who will only enjoy our company for short periods of time.

Claire Wing, junior creative writing major, said she has a few friends she talks to regularly but mostly keeps to herself. She is not a big fan of the phrase “friends come and go” because it says a lot about the speaker.

“It’s not that their friends are coming and going. It’s that they themselves come and go. It almost sounds like a projection,” Wing said. “I am not someone that is like that. I take my friendships seriously, and I like putting effort into them over time.”

In Wing’s view, it is strange to want long-lasting friendships in our social climate because society has encouraged “come and go” relationships. Our society encourages abandoning others because we are hyper individualistic, she said.

“We need to normalize loyal, consistent relationships that help us grow as people,” Wing said. “We need to stop using others as mere ends to our needs and that we can dispose of after. It makes us all incredibly sad.”

As a person with depression, Wing said she recognizes how other depressed people might be affected by this type of messaging. However, that it is not true. Though it may take some time to find a lifelong community, it is worth it to finally achieve that feeling. 

“I would also encourage them to stop talking to anyone who treats them as something momentary. That’s a red flag,” she said. “Everyone deserves others who are just as committed to sustaining healthy, lasting relationships.”

Hallie Cromwell, junior wildlife conservation and ecology major, said she does not hold the same beliefs. The idea that friends come and go is a part of life and human relationships.

“I see no problem with it. You shouldn’t be rotating out friends like you would tires, but you shouldn’t feel forced to keep those long-lasting friendships if the connection is no longer there,” she said.

Like Wing, Cromwell said she also deals with depression. However, she said this does not change her views. Instead, she believes in the idea of holding onto memories we made with people, even if we never see them again.

She gave an example of her parents still telling funny or heart-warming stories about their friends even though they have not seen them in decades.

“I know it can be hard to look to the positive when you’re depressed, but sometimes being able to think about the future and how you can continually look upon the past for the warmth it brings could surely help a couple people,” Cromwell said.

Realistically, I do not think we will ever be able to achieve a societal change in which we place a higher emphasis on longer friendships. Considering Wing’s view on how our society is individualistic, it just seems impossible. People move away and pursue different dreams and ambitions that are not compatible with their friends’ lives.

This is especially true in the case of WSU. Most of us probably are not going to stay in Pullman after graduation. We are all going to move to different cities, states or even countries, in which case we will separate from friends and likely sever the bonds we had with them because we will have new lives.

There is some truth to be had with “friends come and go.” It is a fact of life. However, I believe there is some improvement to be done in how we handle friendships. People constantly cycle through new friends and communities at every opportunity they get rather than focusing on the friends and communities they already formed.

But, this phrase is conditional. Accept that friends come and go in cases where the connection is no longer there or in cases where people move away. Normalizing abandonment when it becomes opportune should not be so easily accepted in society. 

After all, we did just emerge from a year of hardly any social interaction whatsoever. It would be nice to see friendships last longer than a couple weeks. 

Even if they are not forever, we as a society should maintain the friends we have rather than drop them just because it is acceptable in our environment.