Facebook tells me so. On Twitter or Instagram, we just follow each other. Look at and like pictures we take of the food we eat or the moon we see or of our friends that are near, or have a quickie relevant to our latest brain fart.
But Facebook says we’re friends. Some of us are even close friends, notified instantly of our every update and link and share.
Facebook used to be about people we knew. Aunt Whoever or Cousin Whichone Colleague Overthere or any of the number of people we rub physical shoulders with on a semi-regular basis. It was our way to keep up, stay abreast, and invite people over for dinner. Or at least share what we had for dinner to make others jealous. Like when I get to have so-and-so’s famous noodles and you get to sit wherever you are and drool, bringing to mind the smells of the kitchen or the saltiness of the broth.
We had real-world interactions, spats, times of sorrow, that weren’t always public but instead close and sometimes messy.
But now it’s all out there, where the contact isn’t flesh on flesh or mind to mind. And the scary thing to me is how this is becoming the new way to be friends. And we are becoming good at it. In some ways, we are perhaps more real online. Or at least we are getting better at being real online. We think before we post and let fly with what truly drives us (crazy). What we are thinking and feeling means more when we share it with the world.
More revealing to me is the way we make friends these days. We don’t meet at the local gaming store or park or nightclub anymore. We don’t see one another face to face first. Not me, anyway. I see an interesting comment on an update, check out your profile, send you a friend request, and you respond according to your whims. I read your blog, you maybe read mine, we comment back and forth, and one day we realize that, just like Facebook says, we’re friends.
The things that bother me? Tomorrow, we might not be friends. Either of us could decide at a moment’s notice that the other is just not that friendly anymore. No longer friend material. We try hard to be likeable. Share the sort of stuff that keeps people interested or gets them thinking. But that might not be enough eventually.
Or, we could go to our grave and never shake hands. Or hug, if you’re the hugging type. I won’t ever get to make for you my killer pancakes or lend you my favorite novel or look at you with with eyes that aren’t fixed but shifty and telling. We will probably never getting the chance to share a drink or a smoke or a cup of Joe and have an argument that is heated and spontaneous and makes us feel so awkward that we either take that chance to really look into each others eyes and sense the immediate passion and then find some of that precious, holy common ground that exists between two people – that which binds us and keeps us at the table or on the porch, in communion, within arm’s reach – or accept the opportunity to wash our hands and walk away, knowing we tried, still respecting each other, but parting ways nonetheless. Or not. Maybe we just agree to disagree and still call one another friend. After all, the coffee is still warm and there are other things that make hanging out worth it.
Friends I’ve Never Met vs. Friends In Real Life.
Or is the new norm a strange combination of the two? If so, I guess I’m admitting that I don’t like it all that much. I’d rather know you than just catch your updates online. But this, of course, is not possible in many cases. More than I realized, until recently. And I think that makes me sad.
There’s a lyric that comes to mind often: I want to know you, not just about you. This is where I’m at. And I’m not so sure there’s a thing I can do about it . . .