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Do you recognize this song from a television program? The program ended in 2004. But it is still one of most the popular programs around the world. It is the 26th most popular English language program on earth. In India and Pakistan, it is still the third most popular English language show. It is the television program “Friends”.
This show is about the lives of six people: Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey, and Phoebe. They are all friends who live in New York. They are always together. They drink coffee, eat meals, watch television, and do other things. Each character has a job. Each character has a family. But the important relationships in this show are the friendships. This is why the show is called “Friends”.
Life can be like this program. When a person moves away from their family, their friends can become the most important relationships they have. Or this can happen because of a bad relationship with parent. Or maybe a person’s family has died. These situations can make people look for new relationships. Today’s Spotlight is on when friends become family.
A program like Friends has all the things that people want in relationships. People want to feel close to the people they love. They want to be able to talk about anything. They want to know people for many years, sometimes even a lifetime. People want things to be easy. They want to be able to call a friend without planning and talk or eat a meal together.
Deborah Tannen is a teacher at Georgetown University. In 2016 she was writing a book about friendship. She talked to many people. She was surprised at how many people said that their best friends were like family.
They shared stories and experiences with each other. They shared meals. One man said that he did not really enjoy spending time with his friend, but that he had to, because the man was like family! Tannen understood that many of these people felt “close” to a person in some way a way that felt comfortable. Tannen thought about her own friend, Karl. She recognized how he had many of the things she wanted in a friend. She wrote:
“If I am angry or sad about something, I call him. I trust his judgement, though I might not always follow his advice. And most of all, there is comfort. I feel completely comfortable in his home. When I am around him, I can be completely myself. I do not have to worry.”
Friends that make us feel at home are wonderful. But everyone knows that friendships are not always easy. Even on a program like Friends, people fight with each other. Tannen writes,
“Just as with families, friends who are like family can bring happiness but also pain. The comfort of a close relationship can sometimes change and make you feel trapped. The closer the connection, the greater the power to hurt. Your friend may disappoint you or make you sad.”
The people who understand us are people who have experienced what we have experienced. This is why sometimes friends become like family. Imagine two people serving together in a war. Thomas Brennan served in the United States military. He fought in wars both in Iraq and Afghanistan. He told the New York Times that,
“I feel pride in my country. I have seen things that made me sometimes regret my service. But I felt a calling to serve. In my case, it was because of the attacks of 9/11. I have learned that I will always belong to a brotherhood until I die. The military are my family.”
The strong feelings for the people you fight with exist in militaries all around the world. In fact, it can be difficult for people who have served in war to make new friends. They are joined to other soldiers by very difficult situations. When they return home, they do not have the same people around them. Their family does not understand what they experienced. They can feel lonely. People who serve in the military sometimes need help connecting to NEW people when they finish their military service.
It is not just war that connects people. Sneha Ashtikar moved from Mumbai, India to Paris, France. She only knew one person and was very lonely. In India, she talked to her mother every day. She missed this. It took time, but eventually her friends filled this need for her. Ashtikar told the website HelloGiggles,
“My friends are my family in Paris. Not only have they helped me through rough times, they have also shaped my personality in so many ways. My parents and friends back home are definitely supportive, but physical presence changes everything.”
Ashtikar’s friends helped her find a place to live. They help her with other problems. They celebrate holidays together. And when she misses India, they help cheer her up. She says,
“If you are with the right people, your friends can lift you up and give you courage to survive any problem. It may relate to living in a different country or just being a human. They will be proud of you when you earn an achievement. They will teach you to love yourself. They will get mad at you when you are wrong. They will prevent you from making bad choices. Your friends will fill the hole and be your family.”
But can your friends replace your family? It is difficult to know. Sometimes important relationships form between family members. Sometimes they happen between friends. We all need people in our lives who accept us for who we are. We all need people who will help us to grow and change. For many people, this is a family of friends.
What do you think? Do you have a friend who is so close that you think of them as family? Do you have a person in your family that you would call your best friend? Tell us about them. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at email@example.com. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.
The writer of this program was Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Forming A Family: Friends as Family.’ Look for our listening app in the Google Play Store and in iTunes. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.
Do you have good friends that feel like family. What does it mean to have friends like this? Why do people feel close to their friends?
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