deep thoughts : friendships; facebook is not enough

 

Today is all about making the time to make real connections.

I’ll tell you why.

On Saturday, I lost a dear friend of mine.  He was only 38, married, and two beautiful young boys.

I had known him since he was in kindergarten.  He and my younger brother were best friends, and he was always at our house. He felt like a part of the family.  He was so kind and sweet…and funny, I always adored him.

Years were to pass, and it wasn’t until my 20th high school reunion that I was to see him again.  There he was, larger than life, that big beaming smile.  I hugged him tight, and although he towered over me, I was hugging my little brother again.

His wife had been in my graduating class, so although he didn’t do the Facebook thing, she did so we “friended” and I was able to peer through his life, and keep tabs on it as well.

Here’s what struck me so much yesterday while I was at his viewing.

The Facebook thing.  It is a wonderful vehicle for reconnecting with old friends,  without a doubt it has many merits.  But what I suddenly find most tragic, and so unfortunate, is that it has enabled most of us to become voyeurs as we sit back and watch the lives of others whom we deem friends.

It gives us a false sense of connection.

This is terribly unfortunate.  Sure we occasionally hit like as we read about the happenings in their lives, or watch their kids grow up through the looking-glass of our computer screens. So sadly this has become the norm, an accepted substitute for genuine re-connection or connection.

I was not the only one I heard saying, “I know, it’s horrible, he was such a great guy.  We were Facebook friends but I had not seen him in years.”

We are merely watching from the sidelines, no longer are we active participants.  It allows us the luxury of being incredibly lazy in our friendships.

I get it, I’m guilty of it, believe me.  But yesterday really made me think about it.

Social media is a tool.  But like any tool it has many uses and functions.  We can choose to watch, or we can choose to participate.

I found myself wishing desperately that I had reached out beyond that false sense of genuine connection.  I wish I had gotten together with him and his family instead of watching and reading about them.  I wish I had taken the time to plan that get together instead of talking about it and falling back into the comfort of cyber connection.

You don’t know when it will be one of those faces on your friends list that suddenly shows up in a post that they are gone.

Be it cancer, a heart attack, a car accident, a homicide, a suicide, a freak act of nature…we take for granted that those faces will be there smiling at us every day and we fool ourselves into thinking that they know how we feel about them.

I for one plan on reaching out more.  Taking time to set up real meetings with friends whom I care about, and have not seen for ages.   The ones who Facebook friended me (or vice-versa) years ago and I have still not yet gotten together with.

Facebook Friends really means Friends I Take For Granted.

All this texting, our worlds filled with  iTouch and iPad, no one has to actually speak to anyone anymore.  By 2020 they’re going to have to have a required class in high school called iContact.  It’s becoming a lost art, and it’s terrible.  It is necessary for genuine human connection, and it’s fleeting.

I urge you to let Facebook be the tool that reunites, but then it’s your job to take that reunion to the level of reality where there is real conversation and face to face connection.  Eye contact (or iContact).  You don’t get that through your computer, you just don’t.

You won’t have to kick yourself when you’re standing at a funeral saying;  well, we were Facebook friends….

Dedicated to my friend, my other little brother, Albert Eugene Smith
(April 1, 1974 – August 3, 2012)

9 replies

  1. This is something I think about a lot. I have 400+ Facebook “friends”, and I see about…5 of them regularly. You summed it up perfectly with the statement “through the looking-glass of our computer screens”. That’s exactly how it feels. Sure, I laugh at things, “like” things, etc. But it’s just not the same. I love technology, but sometimes it can be horribly depressing…

    Time to throw a big party at the Kelly house, I guess! If more than those 5 people come, that’s a success ;)

    Thanks, Tracy!

  2. A very thoughtful post.

    I don’t do FB really but have found some meaningful connections through the blog work- some amazing writers, some folks who share their struggles so eloquently, like you. Not the same as the intimacy of my friends here- but still real and important to me.

    You’re doing some amazing stuff here. Keep at it.

    Tom

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      It is incredibly meaningful to me to know that in some little way I am putting some good stuff out into the universe. If I inspire any sort of positive thoughts or action, and hopefully spread some smiles, then mission accomplished.

      Be well :)

      Tracy

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