Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Virtually Friends

It took me a while to catch on to this whole Facebook thing. I wasn’t really looking to be surprised by old acquaintances that really just wanted to practice a wee bit of voyeurism but not really interested in re-connecting.  But I realized that I had those voyeuristic tendencies, too.  I logged on.

My local and see-all-the-time friends were easy adds. We use it to post pictures of our kids together and schedule stuff. My friends flung far and wide were another easy addition – so simple to share the latest news and pics and feel closer than geography allows.  But it was adding the old high school – and older – friends that felt a bit odd.

Here I was, inviting and being invited into someone’s life. Many of whom I had not seen or talked to in more than two decades (okay, way more if you must know.)  Some were no-brainers – those I was relatively close to back in the day and had some level of contact with since graduation.  Some surfaced as familiar names but not necessarily good friends from that time.  I clicked accept anyway.  I've avoided friending anyone who bullied me or intimidated me back in the day. Immature? Probably.  But I can live with that.  Some names weren’t even familiar and I had to reach out to a mutual friend to reassure me that I was simply having a brain fart and did, indeed, know that person. Bless the patience of those friends who emailed me with what was surely a sigh and said, “Yes, you know that person. It’s fine.”

I’ve reconnected with a college friend who I had looked for over the years. We met freshman year and clicked.  Though we stayed in touch for quite a while, we had lost touch and it was wonderful to find him again.  Even more wonderful to see how happy he is and the amazing family that has turned him into one of the very people he would mock so many years ago.  Thank goodness his self-deprecating sense of humor has remained intact – thus letting me point this out openly.  So, to “Biff”– damn glad to see you. It had been too long.

To the girls on my street – some of you are not on Facebook often enough so I actually have to dial the phone and see how you’re doing but it’s so great to see you on here.  Virtual beep on the hill and splat candles to you. I love seeing your kids and hearing about your lives. You remind me how old I really am. But, in a good way. TSH, you inspire me in ways I can’t explain and wished we lived closer so we could meet for coffee. Or wine. Perhaps a lot of wine. 

It’s been amazing to see how some folks who I once knew so well – and swore I’d be friends with forever – have grown up. They look the same to me and when I read their words, I can hear their voices as if we’re still in the hall, at a football game or a keg party.  I’ve been touched by their kind words and heartfelt posts.  I’ve seen the joy on their faces when they post pictures of graduations and grandchildren (yep, and you know who you are.) To hear folks voice their passion, share their worries or celebrate a success – it’s really a gift to be a part of that. Regardless of how far or how long it’s been.

Sadly, I’ve had to say goodbye to some folks via Facebook.  In my short time on there, we lost three classmates and reading the posts and messages was a virtual memorial that brought us together.

I'd rather chew my arm off than be in junior high again.

I’m not being Pollyanna-ish about this. I know Facebook can be a vehicle for a whole new level of cruelty. I’ve been defriended and seen folks post hurtful things with the finesse of a 7th grader.  For me, living across the country from where I grew up, in a different state from my siblings and far away from many friends – it’s made my world a wee bit smaller. 

I may not play games, accept or give “pokes”, or “re-post this status.” I may not have the most Facebook friends, reply to every single post or even post daily. But, a friend is a friend. Even just on Facebook. Share that.

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