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By Publius | Social media is changing the nature of friendship – at least at the level of communication, but perhaps in other ways as well.  People we perhaps have never met nor will ever meet in person can be close friends through Facebook or Twitter.  And there is certainly ample evidence to suggest that not all these friends are who they appear to be online.

That is not to say that such things are limited to cyberspace.  Many have experienced the shock and rejection of finding that a close friend has not been honest or true about their life.  One of the deepest needs of humanity is to be loved, and friendship is a major means of fulfilling that need.  So in this day of pseudo-friends, what criteria can be trusted for evaluating and choosing true friends?

If we are willing to take tried and tested wisdom from a ways back, we can find great help from Cicero, that famous Roman who died almost 2,000 years ago.  Though he lived so long ago, it is hard to improve on the advice he gives about true friendship.  Consider your own relationships in comparison to the following advice.  You may not agree with all of it, but it is all sound advice to think about.  Don’t let how old it is get in the way of finding and building some great relationships for you.

“A friend is a second self.”

“Never injure a friend, even in jest.”

“Life is nothing without friendship.”

“Your enemies can kill you, but only your friends can hurt you.”

“Friendship improves happiness, and abates misery, by doubling our joys, and dividing our grief”

“Thus nature has no love for solitude, and always leans, as it were, on some support; and the sweetest support is found in the most intimate friendship.”

 “The man who backbites an absent friend, nay, who does not stand up for him when another blames him, the man who angles for bursts of laughter and for the repute of a wit, who can invent what he never saw, who cannot keep a secret — that man is black at heart: mark and avoid him.”

 “As for myself, I can only exhort you to look on Friendship as the most valuable of all human possessions, no other being equally suited to the moral nature of man, or so applicable to every state and circumstance, whether of prosperity or adversity, in which he can possibly be placed. But at the same time I lay it down as a fundamental axiom that ‘true Friendship can only subsist between those who are animated by the strictest principles of honor and virtue.'”