I’ve been thinking about friends… how we meet, how we stay in touch, how we communicate, how we fight, how we make up, how we joke, how we laugh, how we let each other know that we love. I have many connections “in real life”. Friends I’ve known for long periods of time, friends I’ve known very briefly. I was trying to process the way in which we stay in touch. Is it face to face, is it by phone, is it by email or text or Facebook or twitter?
I actually opened my twitter account when my mother was in a hospice house nearing the end of her life (hospice can be a boring place, more on that later). I didn’t understand it and never looked at it — it seemed rather confusing. About four months later, I decided to give it a try again — still, it seemed confusing. But, I looked at it at least once a week and wrote little snippets in 140 characters or less. Then I began to connect with people and laugh and share stories. I would call it friendship.
One of the arguments I’ve heard about twitter and Facebook and texting or other forms of “hands-off” communication is that possibly, the people who communicate primarily this way have an inability to form “in real life” relationships. They have barriers that remain intact due to the lack of “hands-on” contact. That possibly, they lack the ability to form lasting quality relationships. The implication here was that I too was one of those people. So, I thought that maybe this was true. Possibly I was fooling myself into believing “in real life” connections inevitably could not form unless the primary mode of communication is “hands-on”. But, then that meant that not only was I flawed, many others were flawed too.
So, I investigated. I started looking at myself and the friendships I have. And to be perfectly honest, the relationships (mind you there aren’t many but they do exist) I’ve honed on twitter or Facebook have given me a power… a confidence to speak more freely with my “hands-on” friends. I speak to my friends on twitter or Facebook far more frequently than I do my friends I don’t share this connection with. All my friends are “in real life”. The one’s I get to actually sit down to a meal with or watch a movie with aren’t anymore real than the ones I talk with by email or text or twitter or Facebook.
I have a best friend that I’ve known for 36 years. We haven’t seen each other “in real life” in almost three years. We text more often than we talk on the phone. Yet, no one would question our friendship. No one would question the validity of it due to a lack of “hands-on” time.
So, I live “in real life”. I’m not sure where else you can live. And “in real life” I have many friends that I cherish. Many friends who shine a light on me. Many friends who I can sit with on a beach somewhere and watch the waves and talk and be together — “in real life”.