Friday, September 24, 2010

Are You My Friend?

Have you ever sat down in your only free 5 minutes in the day, logged into facebook only to have the stark realization that you have no idea who any of your “friends” are?  I’m to the point now that I know their names, their dog’s names, and what they cooked for supper tonight.  I celebrated with them when they got that job they’ve been wanting, and smiled at pictures of their children; yet I have no memory of ever meeting these people in my life.  Was it an acquaintance from high school or perhaps I sat beside them at some meeting I went to 3 years ago?  Who knows, but here’s the strange part; in some odd way I feel connected to these people, intertwined in their lives, engrossed in their dramas.  In some ways I’m closer to them than any real life friend I see occasionally or wave to as I drive through my neighborhood. 
Which leads me to my question of the day: has the internet brought back the idea of the pen pal?
Every day I sit down with my laptop on the sofa, my two year old driving trucks up and down my legs, Super Why with the power to read playing in the background on the tv, and I check my email.  I tell myself that this is one of my responsibilities as a small business owner, staying on top of all correspondence.  But, in reality, I have a friend that I email every day about anything and everything.  There have been really hard days when that email message was the only ray of sunshine in my dark and stormy life.  We talk about the men in our lives, her dating madness, and my crazy Mr. Alpha Male husband.  We talk about our dreams and deepest desires for the future, our children and the joys and struggles involved with them.  And, because we are forced to put what we are thinking and feeling into black Calibri type face and fill a screen with it, we say more than we would on the phone or, if we lived closer, over a glass of wine.  I cherish those few minutes every day when I get a new message and have a brief glimpse into her daily life.  And, in essence isn’t that what having a pen pal is like?
It seems like everyone has a blog these days, cathartically purging themselves of all of their innermost struggles into print and sending it out online.  And, now I have a blog where I write my personal thoughts on life and put them out in the world for everyone to see and examine.  Do we have that same level of openness and honesty with friends that we see in person regularly?   There was a time when people were friends in real life; and now it seems like all friendships stay firmly planted in cyber space, while we lock our doors and close our blinds to the outside world.  Which leaves me wondering both in real life and online, “Are you my friend?”


Heather Molloy said...

I have a three "web" friends and all three are in other countries, but there are times I talk to them more than I do my (what I call) "real life" friends. One in particular I talk to almost every day and, like you, we talk about a lot of stuff we might not talk about if we were face to face. It's like online therapy for both of us.

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