FOUR QUARTERS

There’s been a quote that’s been floating around through the usual social media portals that was attributed to being stated by Al Capone, the notorious Chicago gangster of the Roarin’ 20s. (The 20th century “Roarin’ 20s”!)

The story goes that when we was asked by a reporter for one of the Chicago daily newspapers on the people he associates with, he stated that it’s best to watch who you make friends with. He noted that “I would rather have four quarters in my pocket than one hundred pennies!”

What Big Al was attempting to get at was the fact that it’s best to pick and choose who to make friends with in terms of quality rather than quantity. One can only have so many friends that are deemed as “close” rather than people that are in the masses who are treated within the same capacity.

There’s many sources out there in cyberspace land where one can learn about the dynamics of friendship. This here writer has also written upon the subject a number of times before, noting that friendship is harder to obtain while one ages as living within this domestic society. It’s also a challenge to who one should make friends with and for what purpose.

Of course, this year was just as challenging as well. Thanks to the ever lovin’ COVIG-19 thing, people have been hunkering down at home, nearly locking themselves out of harm’s way. As the weather was getting better, people started to creep out from their domains, making a feeble attempt to engage in social activities but only to a point. Of course, big time gatherings were placed on hold, while doing things that could count as a social gather was altered from gym meets, going to sporting events, attending a theater (both live theater and the moving picture type), as well as hosting parties and celebrations that are another part of the domestic landscape lifestyle.

And without these gatherings and events, folks stated to feel anxiety. They started to experience some form of loneliness as well. So these folks started to reach out and touch someone, but not necessarily in any physical sense. Handshakes were out. So were hugs! If people wanted to get close that wasn’t something one would see on network TV (assuming that people still view network TV), they did so in vengeance!

Places that offer sexual aids and related accessories online reported sales to be up from the previous year. And for those that wanted to be close by watching others engage in that activity, the website PornHub.com reported a 25% increase of online traffic. Ditto for a competing website, XHamster.com.

But what’s the status of friendship as a whole, especially in these lives and times? Recently, Snap, Inc., the folks behind Snapchat, recently released The Friendship Report 2020, a collection of findings from studies the company commissioned from Alter Agents upon the current pandemic’s impact on friendships and well-beings.
The report, their second report on the study of friendship from around the nation as well as through international portals, interviewed some 30,000 people through sixteen countries noting how the COVIG-19 pandemic has changed or altered the dynamics of friendship, with a team of seventeen experts on the field contributing to the report.

As Snap stated in their introduction to this year’s report..

Our initial global Friendship Report was released in 2019 to examine the state and nature of friendship around the world. The report was broad in scope, diving into attitudes about friendship and what helps make them healthy and long-lasting. An important finding in last year’s report was that our closest friends are key to our happiness, often from early life—and while most of us do have close friends, some of us don’t.

For the second edition of the Friendship Report, we wanted to understand why. Did some of us not make those close friends in the first place, or did we lose them along the way? In a year where Covid-19 has fundamentally changed how we interact with our friends, understanding what causes friendships to thrive or falter and the impact of this pandemic is more important than ever.

Some of the highlights of Snap’s findings..

-COVIG-19 (or “COVIG” for short) brought some friends closer together, but also made some of people feel lonely.

-Friends are our first line of defense against loneliness, and we generally make our best friends in childhood; on average we have known our closest friends for at least half of our lives.  

-Most of us have lost touch with a close friend from childhood, with the majority wanting to rediscover that close connection.

-While most of us are keeping connected better through digital communication channels, we still need to develop our friendship skills to help us learn how to maintain friendships over distance and get back in touch if we do lose contact.

Other stats to ponder upon…

COVIG was the leading cause of stress for American Snapchatters with a count of 85%. Finances came next at 81%, followed by work and/or career pressures at 80%. 60% of respondents mentioned politics as well as the results of the recent election.
School was a leading source of stress for those Snapchatters of the Gen Z demographic running at 75% for those aged 13 through 24, spiking to 91% of those 13 through 17 years of age. Major concerns of this group included the lack of socialization with their peers and falling behind on their education.
67% of those responding have felt lonely since the COVIG pandemic began to take its toll, up from 59% the previous year. Almost half (49%) said that being unable to see their friends made them feel more lonelier.

However, two thirds (66%) of respondents said they are using the people they know to stay in touch more than they had before social distancing became the norm.

As this month progresses, the times where COVIG may begin its rise is in areas where the weather is getting colder and greyer. To add insult to the so-called injury, the next six weeks will bring three major holidays that are known to be famous for its social gatherings, group activities, and overall bonding of people that are considered as family, either through blood, marriage, or by way of self adaption and acceptance.

Within the last few seasons, many of those of the Millennium age (born from 1980 through 1996), whose birth family may not necessarily be acceptable or accessible, this group invented something called “Friendsgiving”, a term that is basically a Thanksgiving gathering, but everyone in attendance isn’t necessarily related to one another but are close enough be be considered as family. However, even Friendsgiving may be part of a dilemma thanks to people not able (or not wanting) to participate in any larger gathering. The same goes for all of the holidays that involving merry making, gift exchanging, food consumption, and lighting lights that mean something connected to the celebration in question. These events are simply called “The Holidays”. And within the same stance as Thanksgiving and even Halloween, nobody is going to put off the celebration of these events. Granted, it’s going to be rather different, but it isn’t going away!

Last of the three is New Year’s Eve. This is the event where big-deal parties take place with drinking and making a whole lot of noise to ring out the old and to ring in the new year. Many people used to take advantage of this event, whole others showed minimal interest. So this holiday may be put on life support, if not considered as dead. After all, Guy Lombardo, Dick Clark, and Ben Graurer are long gone, if not totally forgotten!

And PS..There isn’t any Rose Parade this year either. Save your carfare to Pasadena for this time around! Nothing is going to happen along Colorado Blvd. Another sign of the times!

But friendship is one of those human traits are are important for physical and emotional survival. In fact, yours truly has made major efforts to keep in contact with those within my inner circle. They may not necessarily understand the things I involve myself with, but that doesn’t matter! If they are out there for me, I’ll do my damnedest to be there for them. That is, if they want me to be there for them!

But take heart folks! Do what many songs sing out upon the phrases of friendship. Some are better than others, but they are out there! After all, four quarters are a lot easier to handle than those one hundred pennies. It’s also a lot easer to carry as well! And if you pay for something worth a dollar, folks are more apt to grab those coins with George’s picture on ‘em that with honest Abe–unless Abe’s mug is plastered on a five dollar bill!
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