A reader of my post on the networks and connections of today’s grads points me to this brief but highly interesting article on friendship in the cyber-age. It starts by reviewing Aristotle:
In Book VIII of his Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle categorizes three different types of friendship: friendships of utility, friendships of pleasure, and friendships of the good. Friendships of utility are those where people are on cordial terms primarily because each person benefits from the other in some way. Business partnerships, relationships among co-workers, and classmate connections are examples. Friendships of pleasure are those where individuals seek out each other’s company because of the joy it brings. Passionate love affairs, people associating with each other due to belonging to the same hobby organization, and fishing buddies fall into this category. Most important of all are friendships of the good. These are friendships based upon mutual respect, admiration for each other’s virtues, and a strong desire to aid and assist the other person because one recognizes their essential goodness.
The author goes on to discuss each category and how the web and email play a role in the forming and maintaining of such a relationship. He’s optimistic — people tend to dwell on the negative when it comes to the internet and its effect on friendships, he says, but in the end it is more a force for good.