Recently there has been some discussion on Facebook as to whether or not the friends we meet there are real or not. Some have pointed out that Facebook friends cannot be in your immediate presence so are not the same as “real” friends.
I thought about that this morning as I wrote the following to my Facebook friends:
“Good Morning, Special People in my life. Because I see your faces* when your names pop up on my computer, I smile many times in each day, both on my face and in my heart. Thank you for being an important part of what makes me who I am. Because you bring so many smiles to me, I have many to send back your way. Catch one and hold it in your heart and wear it on your face for this day.” (*meaning, in my mind)
Has anyone read, “A stranger is a friend you’ve not yet met”? A little over a year ago, many of my Facebook friends were strangers to me. We met in a writing group, our personalities clicked, and we became friends as we interacted through the various writer sites. Later we picked up the interwoven thread of friendship and have continued it through Facebook, being introduced to and adding a few more along the way.
Not all my FB friends were unknown, because many are family members (although some of those are now grown whom I’ve not seen since they were children) or longtime friends from all over the United States. However, if we carry out the premise that only the family and friends who can reach out and touch are able to give comfort, then I’m in big trouble. Other than my husband, the closest family members I have live about a three-hour drive from us. I do have a number of local friends who were friends prior to Facebook. They meet what seems to be the above-mentioned standard of being real by living within our city blocks, but like some physical family associations, some personalities mesh better than others. I know I have more in common with some of my online friends I’ve never met than I do with some of these with whom I’ve spent many hours. It’s what Anne of Green Gables refers to as “a kindred spirit.” It’s either there or it’s not.
I think I understand what those who seem to be throwing cold water on the fires of Facebook friendships are trying to get across. When we are facing life’s trials, there is nothing in this world as comforting as being in the arms of a loved one, whether it’s a daily greeting or a hug of sympathy. It is just plain good to know someone else is standing or sitting beside you when you have long hours at a hospital or you are facing some other life stress. However, having lived so far away from family and most of our loved ones for the majority of my years, there have been times when either receiving or giving physical presence has been an impossibility for me. Perhaps that’s how I have come to know the value of these online friendships, the ones who to me are real people. Some, but not all, may even remain faceless except in my mind, but the ones who are my special friends are real whether they live near or far, whether I have met them in person or not, and each one, being a real friend, carries a piece of my heart making each one a special person in my life.
M. Sue 8-24-2011