Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Facebook Friends ARE Real Friends

Yesterday I had one of the best birthdays ever, thanks to social media.  A family medical drama prevented me from going to lunch with friends and, as a result, I only spoke to a handful of living, breathing human beings yesterday – but I still felt loved because I was electronically “hugged” by people I am proud to call my friends.  A lot of them are Facebook friends and some I haven’t seen in decades, but they are still my friends.

 

A week ago, the Wall Street Journal ran an article that dissed and dismissed the possibility of any kind of “real” socialization offered by today’s keyboard society.  In this article, the author pointed out that his 298 Facebook friends are not necessarily people who love him (or, for that matter, even like him) and that the concept of truly being friends with close to 300 people sounds positively exhausting.

 

I should point out that the same article also managed to fit in a quote I take quite seriously — “without friendship… we are all lost.”  Truer words were never spoken.  For me, nearly half a century of living, working and volunteering has allowed me to mix in the worlds of thousand of people, many who have profoundly touched my life.  Over the years, those people have scattered to the wind thanks to marriage, career changes or the fact that they simply moved on to new friends.  While we all work our hardest to maintain some levels of shared interest in our closest relationships and/or marriages (honestly, 20 years and I still don’t have THAT perfected), we don’t always work as hard to stay tethered to others in our lives who wear the title of “Friend”.  Next on the tier are the co-workers we call friends who share office space, or career playing fields, who we are required to share just enough of our lives to be polite and effective team players.  Relatives are a little higher up on that relationship ladder, and usually involve more intense and invasive interaction and often, we are forced to tolerate them and don't consider them "friends" (who among us hasn’t had that one relative that we work a little extra hard to bob and weave away from at family gatherings).

 

Unlike having to relate to people we see every day, when it comes to our social networking “friends”, we are choosing to seek out a select group of people to connect with, whether sharing silly games, brief emails, on-the-spot instant messaging or current or archived photos or videos – we are actively reaching out and proactively allowing ourselves to be sought out.  Human nature generally compels us to want interaction and today’s busy, fast-paced lives aren’t conducive to gathering around the fire to share our days and heartfelt experiences anymore the way we once did.  The Information Superhighway has increased the speed of our existence ten fold and we are hanging on for dear life, as it makes our lives more hectic and demanding than ever before.  Therefore, how we reach out to one another must be just as fast and easy.  While critics dismiss these attempts at socialization as simply being watered down, artificial friendships I think they miss the depth that written communication can provide.

 

Remember when, once-upon-a-time the bulk of relationships were conducted via written missive?  Letters traveled over oceans and time to touch hearts and lives – why are we so surprised to think that words are any less powerful today, just because they move through cyberspace in the blink of an eye?  True, there are times that the fingers fly fast and furiously and the send button is often hit with more emotion than the brain can process at that speed and that can be a problem (and don’t even get me started on how cocktails and computers don’t mix).  Still, the written word can sometimes allow a deeper level of conversation and communication that cannot always be achieved in person or on the phone.

 

Today, a dear friend commented on Facebook that her heart was heavy due to the loss of yet another loved one to cancer.  Had it not been for the immediacy of social networking, this information might have never reached me and I might not have dialed her number to call her, just to hear her voice, her thoughts and her pain – but thanks a medium that one reporter dismissed as “tangential and voyeuristic” – I did.  So, who cares what the naysayers say … I am thankful for my Facebook FRIENDS.

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