Aristotle recognized that true friendship, being based on mutual goodness and reciprocity, takes time and intimacy to develop.  Cicero wrote that with the exception of wisdom, such a friendship was the “greatest of all possible gifts.”  And Montaigne noted that, “what we ordinarily call friendships are nothing more than acquaintances and familiarities.”  Sadly what passes for friendship on Facebook is a pale facsimile of the real deal.

The traditional friendship based on goodness or virtue, which Aristotle described in his “Nicomachean Ethics” has today been reduced to a fragmented relationship of convenience.  As author Sherry Turkle points out in her book “Alone Together”: “The ties we form through the internet are not, in the end, the ties that bind.  But they are the ties that preoccupy.”

David P. Bruce
Wheaton, Ill
The Wall Street Journal
Letters to the Editor – Thursday, May 23, 2013