Do you ever just get tired? I do. I always had a lot of friends. Personal friends. As a kid growing up I never had a computer. Heck, we didn’t even have computers then. You were lucky to have a TV. In just a few short years so many things have changed. We went from a generation of glad to watch TV, even with a little herringbone, to cable tv and the internet. Now we have high definition TV and tablets that we can use for our favorite books, watch tv, and play internet games. Seems we have moved into an era of the impersonal way of life.
When I sit at my dining room table I’m glad when I see the neighborhood kids playing and riding their bikes. They’re not at home playing on some internet game or on facebook. They are actually using their energy to play with personal friends and exercising their minds. As for me, well, these days all my personal friends have moved, as well as myself. We all live now in other states and while we see each other when we can, there is a long time in between visits. I treasure my personal friends, most are close friends from my school days. Some over the years I have lost touch with. One of the benefits of the internet is it is easier to find people and reconnect.
So what about the friends we make online? We think of them as friends, especially if we have spent a long time talking and interacting with them. I have a few friends I’ve made online, friendships that I have come to value. But the biggest difference in the online friend and the personal friend is this when you know someone on a personal level you get to know them well. Their little idiosyncrasies, their likes and dislikes, their do’s and don’ts. You understand boundaries. You know when they are upset, or happy. It’s never a question of having them tell you, you just know.
But, what about the friend you make online? How well do you know them? They have to tell you, and you have to trust what they say is true. Do they understand you? Do you really understand them? I know some that I have been talking with and have called a friend for over a year. Do I really know them? No. How can I? I have to only trust what they tell me in chat. I make it a habit of talking on the phone with those I think are friendship I may want to pursue. Just to add that personal touch. It’s much easier to understand someone when you talk to them. You hear the up’s and down’s in their voice, hesitations at responding. When something is wrong you are emotionally affected. However, there are those that we don’t connect with like that. We simply chat online. We still call each other friends. People forget there is a difference between friendships and acquaintances. Those I chat with only are just that, acquaintances. They are the ones that come and go and you’re never really surprised when it happens. You’re not affected by those people. You half expect that they will be gone at some point. Out of the hundreds of facebook friends I have maybe I actually connect with a good dozen or so. Some because we have common ground, and some because there is just something that can not be explained but there is a strong connection.
What happens when we lose an online friendship? Sometimes it’s very sad, especially if we are at a loss to the reason. But sometimes it’s no surprise at all. I think I am constantly amused at how quickly someone wants to call you a friend. Guess I’m just a little more reserved. I don’t like to jump into a friendship quickly, I’m old school and like to get to know the person some before I get to close to them. People tend to build expectations and when we do that, you will always be disappointed. Sometimes I just get so tired of trying to figure out those I don’t really know well. I get so tired of the online drama they cause, and when they become a burden to have as a friend, to coin a phrase, it’s time to let it (them) go. I sometimes just sit in amazement that we actually think that all technology is a good thing, and it is in some cases but it’s not on the personal level. There is so much lost when you eliminate that personal touch. It’s what we really need to be truly successful in many areas of life – the personal touch.