Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Miles Away But Within Arms' Reach

I feel like I'm losing touch with some of my old friends.

You see. I have two kinds of friends. Some who, like me, have moved and moved and moved - if not all over the country - then from city to city. These are the friends who keep in touch the best because we all know the importance of maintaining old friendships. Yes, we can make new friends in our new cities, but there is nothing like an old friend who loves you over the miles.

The others are friends who have lived in one city their whole lives. I'm the one who moved away so the onus is on me to maintain contact. Otherwise - out of sight-out of mind.

Within the stay-put friends, there is another category of those who have married and had children. This single girl in the city just isn't on their radar anymore. It hurts.

I've been thinking about all these weddings I have attended - and I can't recall the part of the vows that says "I vow to forget about all our single friends. Only you and I exist now."
I promise you I have never heard that part in a marriage ceremony, yet it seems to be true for all. Maybe only the married people can hear it!

A few months ago - one of those married with children friends insisted that I join F&ceb00k. It's such a great way to stay in touch she said.
It was... for a while. Now she hardly even updates her status. She never comments on mine. But most serious, she doesn't call or email me anymore - nor does she respond to my calls and emails.

The Internet creates an illusion that we are so very connected to all of our friends. But it's actually a disservice. It is just an illusion. Now that we have daily peeks into our friends worlds - we don't bother to make the phone call. Or plan for a visit.

It's been bothering me a lot lately - so I said just that on my F&ceb00k status today.

The first response back was from a former co-worker, now 700 miles away from me who lost his 6-month-old son last week. They woke up one morning and found him dead in his crib. The funeral was today.

He read what I had to say... and here is his response...
You are wrong. I am so grateful to have this network. I have reconnected with many friends I had completely lost contact with, and it has helped me through this tragic time in my life. I was holed up in my room...unable to talk or see anyone. Yet I could read my friends comments and feel loved and take comfort in it.
I think both perspectives are true.

If not for the Internet, I would not even know how much this old friend is hurting and I would not have even known to send a card of condolence. But through this faceless technology, I have been able to offer tiny, meager words of support - and they mean more to him than I can possibly know.

A blessing and a curse; this technology. We should all use it wisely. Support our friends in simple ways but never forget that hearing their voice or lending a shoulder is worth more than every communication in your tw!tter account combined.

People are flesh and blood and feelings. 1100011000010000111100001010 's can never replace that.

5 comments:

Steamed Dumpling said...

TRS,

Again, I hear you loud and clear. A girl friend and I just recently had a very similar conversation. I have to admit I have been very bad about keeping up. Part of the reason I blog is that it is one way for my friends to keep up with me. I'm trying to be better about calling and talking. But my friends all do have significant others and families. I really can't just call them out of the blue anymore and expect long conversations. :( Good thing about old friends is that when you do talk to them, it's like picking up where you left off. Like there is no time or distance between friends.

Alexis said...

Good post! I had just mentioned to my hairdresser last night how it seems our attention spans have shortened drastically - instead of long phone calls to friends, we post 200 character updates about our lives. But since I'm not great on making those phone calls, I'm glad I at least have those little updates. And my high school graduating class spread ALL over the country, so it's been a good way to reconnect with people I never thought I'd hear from again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your post! I have really been struggling with the relationship with a married friend who has 4 children. She says that I'm one of her closets friends but we rarely talk, and she has no idea what is going on in my life. I think a friend is should be there in good and bad times. How can someone be a friend if they don't even know when you go through bad times? Sometimes, the ability to communicate through social networks gives people an easy way to "stay-in-touch," even though you really aren't.

Terry said...

TRS,
I do comment from time to time on your blog,this is so true, it put tears in my eyes, how would like to find all your sister's on everyone else's facebook but your's. And they know you have one. They can see it on one of your sister's. I've,learned I just have to go on, I struggle as single person. Wanting so badly to have a relationship,and go out of the way for all my friends, but never do I let them know what I truely go through, I think someday I might explode all together as inventually they will ask me what is wrong with me but never do I tell the real truth. You did, and I hear you, it amazes me how some can get ignored thank you for that post.

auntie said...

i reconnected with my high school bff through facebook a few months ago, and we were able to actually get together when i made a trip to visit family recently. and it was so awesome to see her! yes, we'd "caught up" on fb and we both regularly post updates, etc., but i was a little anxious about seeing her - it appeared that she had changed in some ways that i wasn't sure i would like - but it turns out that she's the same wonderful person she always has been, just grown up now. i'm so thankful that we were able to get together because otherwise i wouldn't have been able to really SEE her!

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