THE BLOG

Why I'm Using the Paris Attacks to Tell My Friends They're Incredible

14/11/2015 13:32 GMT | Updated 14/11/2016 10:12 GMT

On Saturday morning I started contacting friends. Friends from my home town, friends from work and friends from countries all over the world. I contacted them just to say 'hi'. I suppose I was acting emotionally after the Paris attacks because these horrible events always make us reflect, don't they?

Terrorism is not a new invention, but I doubt there's many people who, after seeing what happened in Paris on the evening of Friday 13 November 2015, didn't think: 'Shit, that could have been me.'

It could have been my friends, Paul and Anne-Marie, who were enjoying a weekend away together in the district next to one of the attacks. They were lucky. It could have been any one of my colleagues at Le Huffington Post too. Thankfully they were unhurt, but it could have been a completely different story. We're less than 24 hours after the attack and as bodies are slowly identified I desperately hope this situation doesn't change.

When I was contacting my friends I think what I wanted to do was to validate the relationship with people I care about. I wanted to make it real. These days everyone is a friend, or a follow, or a like or a number on a phone. But those things are just inventions. They're not friendships.

Friends do things together. They go to football matches, they have lunch, they call for a chat, they write letters, they support, advise, inspire and help. Sometimes, especially in London, I forget to do that. I forget who my friends are.

I thought about it on Saturday morning and realised I've not seen some of my best mates, people I've known for nearly all my life, for months. On the night of the attacks I actually bailed on meeting one of my best friends, Katie, for dinner.

We're all so busy with other stuff that friendships sometimes take a backseat, and that's fine, but let's not trick ourselves into thinking that by liking something on Facebook is making an effort to stay in touch with friends.

Friendships so often go stale. People move on, people grow up, have children, get divorced, lose themselves and drift away. But our friendships define us and we should protect them.

If, through some hideously random twist of fate one of my friends or I is injured (or worse) as this bizarre, unpredictable and violent phase of history plays out, then I want to at least know I made the most of things with my mates. I don't want to be saying: "I should have been a better friend."

So today, if there's one thing you do, do this: contact an old mate, let them know you're thinking of them. They'll love hearing it and so will you and most importantly nobody can take that friendship away.

#ViveLaFrance and #ViveLaFriends