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Kitchen Sink

Whenever I Call You Friend

August 24th, 2011

{{I’m re-posting this because it came up in conversation last night, and it’s always good to revisit the topic of who surrounds you.}}

 

I’ve had occasion lately to think about friends because I’ve met so many new people since I logged online. Count up the folks I’ve encountered through blogging and Twitter and it’s easily hundreds of people I’ve made personal contact with in the last year alone. Some people I’ve hit it off with, others I could take or leave, and still others have become “close” casual acquaintances. I haven’t been exposed to this many new people and potential buddies since I attended college 20 years ago. I love meeting new people, but it does raise the question of quality vs. quantity. I crave deep relationships, and although I really really enjoy acquaintances as well, I find myself feeling like something is lacking when I spread myself so thin that I can’t focus on nurturing those friendships that extend below the surface level.

 

In the online world, so very many people are called “friend,” but now the term is obviously defined differently than the “friend” that existed before Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Now, a “friend” can simply be someone you met in passing at a mom’s night out. Having an online presence practically guarantees that you’re exposed to a whole new world of people who “know” you and whom you “know.” It’s especially challenging when you end up liking so many people. Maybe an overgeneralization, but most bloggers I’ve met I love. You see each other at tweetups, blogger events, etc. and eventually or instantly become friends. There are so many things people who communicate online have in common –a love of writing, probably, but also of being more than (more than a mom, a dad, an employee). Also? Most people I’ve met this past year, are hilarious. Which really throws a kink into things because I adore hilarity. And next thing I know? I’m keeping in touch with 8,000 people I like to “talk” to online.

 

Still, there’s more to friendship than shared interests and humor. There’s shared time for one. My in-real-life best friend was around when my heart was first broken, when I first lived on my own, when I worked my first professional job, when my mom died, when I met The Rock, when I married him, when I was pregnant. We’ve been through so much together, so much I can never experience with my “new” friends. But I don’t think I’ve spoken with my best friend, who lives in Chicago, for months. My online friends? I “speak” to nearly everyday. And for some of them, I have a deep, abiding love akin to how I feel about my longtime friends. But there IS a difference, I know that. With my best bud, I know she is there for me through thick and thin and vice versa. She’s a proven good thing.

 

And although I love so many of the people I’ve met in the last six months alone, it begs the question of what is owed. And intention. Are some people “friends” with others to climb the popularity ladder? To “steal” some of his or her influence? Sure. It confuses me and I wonder about the intention issue all the time with online buds. Since I don’t have any status of which to speak, I usually am on the receiving end of being shut out of “circles” and this hurts. Also, you KNOW with your longtime in-real-life true blue friends that they will try not to screw you over for status, get competitive (usually) due to a raging ego, want the best for you, and not hurt your feelings (not on purpose anyway). But what guarantees are there for newfound online friendships? Even though you enjoy the person’s company, do you really know him or her? You just don’t have the shared experience with each other to know he or she isn’t an a-hole in real life. Already, I’ve felt excluded (on purpose) and worse: not liked as much as I like. Nothing worse than unrequited online love. Well there is. Like global hunger and political conflict. But we’re talking pretend world here (as my husband affectionately refers to the blogosphere). Because really, there is absolutely no guarantee that what you expect from a friendship (mutual love for one) (being there for you for another) in real life will exist in your online friendships. There’s just no precedent or expectation for good behavior. No one owes you anything just because you have them in your Twitter stream.

 

After all this, there is one conclusion I’ve drawn: online friends — when they cross over into your real life — are just like any other friend. Soon enough, you figure out that some are passerby in your life, some stick around forever. Some turn on you, some define the very word “loyalty.” I guess there really is no difference in the end.

 

So ignore this post. It’s not as insightful as I thought.

 

And? Tweet me.

 

P.S. For the record, I have met several true blues online I would trust with my heart any day.

 

« « Keep Writing    |    Five Social Faux Pas of Yore » »

On July 21st, 2010, JenniferfromLaJolla said:

I love this post. And I love how honest you are. And, in case I haven’t already made this clear, you are stuck with me both as a friend online and in real life. I am perhaps a tad bit suspicious by nature and my radar usually tips me off to those (both online and IRL) who are takers or fakers. I don’t always get that right away, but doesn’t take long before I’ve clued in. I try really hard to follow my intuition. Thus far, it has not let me down. I do need to spend more time talking to my lifelong (or decades long) friends. I’ve been neglectful lately and that is not good.

On July 21st, 2010, Jenn @ Juggling Life said:

You know my “met online” friendships have been all over the board. Then again, these things can happen with “met in real life” friends. I came to the same conclusion you did on the whole subject.

On July 21st, 2010, becky said:

I didn’t think I could love you more, and then you wrote this. YES, to everything. Especially liking someone more than they like you, wanting a friendship and it just not happening the way you’d hoped.

My best friend moved out of state last year. I’ve felt adrift ever since. Trying to connect, but not finding that someone you can have coffee with on the weekends, call at a moment’s notice to go shopping, or just understand all of your quirks. I need that!

I have felt left out at times, too, although I do think most of it is just due to location and unintentional exclusion. If it’s otherwise, I don’t think I want to know.

And what Jennifer said, too. Love you both.

On July 21st, 2010, Tweets that mention San Diego Momma » Blog Archive » Whenever I Call You Friend -- Topsy.com said:

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by San Diego Momma and JenniferfromLaJolla, Becky/ misspriss. Becky/ misspriss said: Nodded my head so vigorously on @sandiegomomma's post that I gave myself a headache. http://bit.ly/cgixcr […]

On July 21st, 2010, Ali @PickleSugarPlum said:

I’ve totally been feeling this way, and you’ve just made me realize that even the people that I look up to feel the same as I do! Thank you. I love you. Can I please be on your “quality” list, and not your “quantity” list? :)

On July 21st, 2010, Christina said:

I hear ya.
PS You are nothing BUT insightful.
I’m still learning about all this online/twitter/blog “friends” thing… I’ve recently said almost the exact same thing to myself.
and I’m a very naive person.
I also put good intentions above all (even with people I haven’t met face to face) and then I find out later who’s still around (I also get hurt by this, probably too easily).
I’m learning a lot about friendships, in general, starting with when I had H (almost 8 years ago) when all my “friends” were young (21), single and not in the same “place”. Sure I am “friends” with most of them again… ON FACEBOOK… but only 2 of those “friends” stuck with me through everything. I’ve since then been trying to find my place within already formed circle of friends and I seem to struggle with friends that are not in the same place, have little in common, etc. Making friends as an adult is not easy. AND it doesn’t make it any easier when ego’s and (wrong) intentions come into play.
You are one person I hope to get to know better, and I mean that.

On July 21st, 2010, Ginger said:

I love this post! Making friends as an adult is hard–both online and in person, if you’re talking about REAL friendships. Most people don’t stick around, but finding those that do? That’s pretty awesome.

On July 21st, 2010, Shana said:

Just had this EXACT conversation with a met-online-now-real-life friend. Except we were drunker and you are eloquenter. But still. Same conclusion. xox

On July 22nd, 2010, The Frugal Hostess said:

What Shana said!!! Including the drunker part. On Tuesday night. Crazy. There are a bunch of bloggers in town who make me feel left out and stupid on a regular basis. Stupid for bringing my labrador-like love to them, not stupid as in brain cells.

On July 22nd, 2010, San Diego Momma said:

Super cool are all of you.

Let’s meet up for some more conversation at a chocolate/martini fountain.

XO.

On July 22nd, 2010, Natalie said:

I was actually just thinking about this on my way home from the tweetup Monday night… how these friendships are starting to become actual friendships and how I need to do more to foster them, i.e. lunch dates and hang outs and such because I really am valuing meeting people who have the same passions as I do. So wanna do lunch!?

On July 22nd, 2010, Ali @PickleSugarPlum said:

Chocolate? Martini? I’m SO THERE! Call me anytime!

You ladies should have tried the Midnight Espresso Martini the other night! MMMMM.

On July 22nd, 2010, Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said:

What Shana said, except I wasn’t drunk and still wasn’t eloquent.

Also? I don’t know what is your status in the status-y ranks of the pretend world here, but I think that the 8,000 who have met you online (and the 7,957 who have gone on to meet you in person at tweetups and blogger gatherings) are genuinely interested in you and drawn to you because of who you are as a writer and as a woman.

Additionally, thanks for following me on Twitter, being my friend on Facebook, and having me on your blogroll.

Finally, see you Saturday. Heh.

On July 22nd, 2010, foradifferentkindofgirl (fadkog) said:

I love this post. I have not yet had the pleasure to meet any of the people I have come to refer to as friends that I’ve met online, but I trust that when the days comes, we’ll fall into an easy banter and connection that started behind screens. This has been a true ice breaker in so many ways, and I really do consider many of the people I’ve met this way to be blessings. Now, does every one of those people stay that way? Like you said, nope. There are a few people who I connected with quite deeply and then, suddenly, that was over. I miss a few of those people, but, well, what is is, I guess.

Not sure I’ll ever have the chance to meet my friends, but I very much hope so!

On July 22nd, 2010, HipMamaB said:

I sure hope Monday inspired this.. b/c it inspired a similar train of thought in me. :) HUGS.

On July 22nd, 2010, Twenty Four At Heart said:

I was thinking about this same thing recently. Last year at BlogHer, I found some of my online friends were just meh in person, others became real life friends I now cherish … and yes, I maybe was fooled by one or two “users” also. I think, however, the people we meet online ARE just like people we meet IRL … in time, they show their true colors. The majority of people I’ve met through blogging have been wonderful … but I think we gravitate in the blogosphere towards people we would like IRL also. I have to say, I am AMAZED at this point in my blogging career at how many of my “real” friends have come into my life via Twenty Four At Heart. I’m so grateful for that too … because really a lot of the people I’ve met thru blogging have helped hold me together through some bad times.
Also, did I mention how very excited I am that we are going to finally meet on Sunday? Yay us! : )

On July 22nd, 2010, Mama Mary said:

Sticking. Around. Forever.

On July 22nd, 2010, Me said:

I ‘heart’ you!

On July 23rd, 2010, Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommy said:

What you said about the ladder climbing? A resounding yes! I do not like that I’ve become a little more jaded since I jumped into this insanity. But, having been burned once, the need for self preservation causes me to take a step back when before I’d be squarely in the middle. Always food for thought here. Thanks for saying so clearly what we were all thinking.

On July 23rd, 2010, green girl in Wisconsin said:

The Blogosphere is kind of like a cocktail party, now that you mention it. Some folks you wave to, others, you pin in a corner and dish with them all night long.

On July 23rd, 2010, San Diego Momma said:

Everybody is awesome.

The name of my new band/book/poem/restaurant.

On July 23rd, 2010, JenniferfromLaJolla said:

Garbage Barge is the name of my band… ;-)

On July 23rd, 2010, chitownlis said:

Love you and Miss you!!!! xoxo

On July 26th, 2010, Da Goddess said:

{{{{hugs}}}}

Always interesting navigating these waters, no?

If ya need to talk, I’m here.

On August 25th, 2011, Alexandra said:

You? I feel an instant kindredness with.

I can’t explain the chemistry, it’s just there.

Like I’ve hugged you before.

On August 26th, 2011, julie gardner said:

I didn’t have a blog when you first posted this; and even when I finally started mine?

I was a complete idiot for months. I didn’t know how to do it.

I mean really. Twitter was a mystery, I wondered why I bothered with ANY of this social media crap when I had In Real Life friends.

But lately I’ve been discovering what you mean about making REAL connections with people online. (Finally. I’ve got the slowest learning curve in history.)

THEN I told myself that online friends might actually have more in common with me than longtime friends because we would connect due to shared interests, not proximity.

But the truth is that the friends I’ve had for thirty years are still around because we had something special, shared bonds, perhaps attended each other’s weddings to The Rock; not because we sat behind each other in Spanish or carpooled to Girl Scout meetings. (Or whatever.)

In other words, “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.”
(Hooray, Girl Scouts!)

Also, there are creeps everywhere and wonderful people everywhere. It sucks that discerning the difference can sometimes take a while and that we can occasionally be wrong.

But I think – from the little I’ve gotten to see/read/explore of you here?

We could be friends.
(Why would anyone not love us? I mean really.)

p.s. Sorry this was rambling. It’s Friday afternoon and I’m already exhausted. I hope you get my point. Or points. Or don’t hate me.

On August 29th, 2011, Kate said:

I think as you grow older your heart learns who can be trusted and who shouldn’t… even though sometimes we do anyways! It’s nice to be surrounded by friends, but even greater to be with someone who knows you so closely, they can read your thoughts…
Great post online friend! ;)

On August 30th, 2011, SurferWife said:

You have my heart (and my scared butt) in the palm of your hand, friend.

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