National Make a Friend Day

National Make a Friend Day is celebrated on February 11th of each year.

Friendship is a relationship between two or more people who hold mutual affection for each other.  Friendships and acquaintanceship are thought of as spanning across the same continuum. The study of friendship is included in the fields of sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and philosophy. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, including social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles.

In the United States, friendship is a more loosely based term. From the time children enter elementary school, most teachers and adults call every other peer they have a “friend” and in most classrooms, or any social setting, children are dictated as to how to behave with their friends, and are told who their friends are. This leaves for a very different base for what a friend should actually be (Stout 2010). This type of open approach to friendship, has made it so many Americans, adolescents in particular, have taken on the term “best friend”. (Stout 2010). Many psychologists have deemed this term as dangerous for American children. This term is so dangerous because it allows for discrimination and groups to form, which causes for bullying in many American schools (Stout 2010). Many people in the United States have come to define their friends in a particular way, and research proves this has been happening for nearly 30 years (Sheets & Lugar 2005). For Americans, friends are people who you encounter fairly frequently that is similar to yourself in demographic, attitude, and activity (Sheets & Lugar 2005). While many other cultures value deep trust and meaning to their friendships, Americans will use the word “friend” to describe any person who has the qualities mentioned before (Stout 2010). There is also a difference in America between men and women who have friendships with the same sex. It has been studied, that it seems men in America have less deep and meaningful friendships with other men, as women have in friendships with other women. Many men and women in the United States have been studied to have similar definitions and ideas of intimacy, but when it comes to applying their intimacy to friendships, women do this with a deeper meaning (Yugar & Shapiro 2001). While studies do suggest these outcomes, it is hard to say exactly where this originated from, since there does not seem to be a historical explanation for it (Yagar & Shapiro 2001). Many studies have also found that Americans, as time goes on, and life becomes busier; will often lose touch with friends, where as other cultures take on a more intense value. For example, an American may see a long time friend and talk about wanting to get something to eat or catch up, with no real intentions of fulfilling that suggestion. It has been studied that this can be an unusual occurrence in many other cultures (Sheets & Lugar 2005).

Americans also use the term “friend” very freely, referring to someone they have known for a few weeks as a friend, perhaps for lack of a term for someone who is more than an associate but less than a friend (Copeland, 2001). The rise of social networking websites – initially with Friendster, followed by others like Myspace and Facebook, which popularized the concept of “Friend requests” – also diluted the traditional meaning of friend due to the manner of many users to accept requests from people whom they have ‘met’ only once – or not at all – and,once the request is accepted, include that person in their “friend list”