Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rethinking Friends

My first in-depth experience with Washington, DC was the summer I lived here and interned. My college roommate grew up here and had spent the spring semester at American University so she introduced me to a number of her friends. There was one guy in particular that I clicked with and we spent a good deal of our time together discovering the city. We didn't date we were truly just friends.

We went back to our respective schools at the end of the summer and once back into our daily routines--and well we didn't speak again--until we ran into each other the following summer at a tiny train station in the middle of nowhere in Spain and again six weeks later in Prague. We vowed that we wouldn't lose touch this time.

So that fall, both having graduated, he called me from NY to see what I was up to. I had returned from my excursion and was living with my parents in FL and trying to figure out my next move. He mentioned he was moving back to DC with a friend and wondered if I wanted him to find an apartment that had a room for me too. "What the hell!" I replied, and before I knew it I was driving to DC with all of my possessions hoping I'd find a job.

We lived together for three years. We visited each other's families, we developed our own traditions and we shared a dog. I loved him like a brother, but we began to grow apart. We moved into our own apartments. We started seriously dating people and we spoke less and less. I got married and got a son not much later and my life spun out of control. He moved back to NY and we haven't spoken in almost 8 years.

Tonight I looked him up on Facebook.

Social media and social networking have made it possible for me to meet incredible people, share interesting ideas and waste time trash talking over the internet during boring meetings, but are these people my "friends?"

It depends when you ask me.

My gut response is yes, but I think back to the friendship I had with my DC roommate or with college friends or folks from high school or middle school even and I wonder if the same definition applies.

The internet has made it possible for us to communicate with people we never see. Through blog posts, through email, in less than 140 characters we share our thoughts, but does that mean that we are friends?

Last night I had drinks with five people I met online and one I have gotten to know better online. We talked easily. We enjoyed ourselves and some of us stayed way later than we should have, but can I say these folks are my friends? What do I really know about them? What do they know about me? Would they notice if I hopped off my social networks? Would they check in if I did?

What about those long-lost friends that you can reconnect with through Facebook or Classmates or any other network out there? Can you revive a friendship that was? Should you even bother? Clearly there were reasons you fell out of touch in the first place. Is it better to leave the past in the past?

I don't have any answers tonight.

I'm just going to go outside and ponder this all.

23 Deserve Mamma's Love:

flutter said...

I'd be honored if you considered me your friend.

Jurgologie said...

I've thought about this a lot. For me, the blogs and social networking have helped me be more of who I am, if that makes sense. It's so hard to make friends when you get older; plus, I think it really is possible to know someone intuitively. I knew you were amazing when I met you last year at BlogHer. Like Flutter, I would be honored if you considered me your friend. You are without question a friend to me and I love you for it.

Andrew said...

I hope so.

To Think is to Create said...

I definitely consider the online peeps my friends. Most of the old time friends have fallen away because I changed and they changed. We're so different now.

I think I'm going to finally give in and get signed up on Facebook. I'm too curious not to!

`Arianne (ToThink on Twitter)

Jessica Gottlieb said...

Oh, I lose contact with no one. Unless they deserve to be lost.

It's okay to have different friends for different functions. My husband is my best friend, but I'd be dead meat without my girlfriends.

Many different girlfriends for many different distances and dramas.

amy turn sharp of doobleh-vay said...

so so interesting- I think about this too. a lot. life is funny how we have ebb and flow in friendship patterns...it is all god this. all good- you have made me think again

Meg said...

Thank goodness this has more than 140 characters! I agree but have found that with all of the moving I have done, the true meaning of friends for a reason, a season and a lifetime. I have also reconnected with 'friends' via all of the same ways you have :), some of the frinedships have fallen back into the same old patterns. Which is so nice. And some have taken a new path. And for some of them, online friendship is the way to go. I am just trying to navigate the new social waters but I do know that if you don't come to the next reunion.......I will come up to DC and kick your ever-lovin' butt!!!

Love you!!
meg

Corinna Makris said...

So far I've been happy when someone I have lost touch has found me through Facebook. So far!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I think we all step back from the computer and wonder...

As for reconnecting with old friends though, I keep my Facebook account for that express reason. I'm not that into all of the goofy quizes and features, and groups... But I have found two of my long lost childhood friends through Facebook. People I've been thinking about and wondering about for years.

I guess this is different for everyone - but I've always been one of those people that can lose touch with someone for years and then just pick up where we left off. Maybe not so much with the some of the work friends, roommates, etc. that I probably wouldn't have spent time with otherwise. But definitely the ones with whom I've shared my heart.

Beth said...

I've never joined Facebook because I figure if I'd wanted to remain friends with those people in my past, I would have. But sometimes (like you) I wonder.
As for meeting people via blogging? Some have become my friends and I see or keep in touch with them on a regular basis.

Bananas said...

isn't it crazy how the internet is changing our world? I think about this too. I do believe it's possible to find real friends online, but perhaps it might be harder to know for sure if someone you think is a real friend really is. You know, until the chips are down.

Tash said...

I think about this too - I deactivated my facebook account because I figured the hundreds of people who I suddenly reconnected with would've still been in my life if they were meant to be. i have true friends all around the world and I keep in touch with them without the need for facebook.

But similarly you and your DC friend grew apart for a reason. That's not a reason not to get in touch with someone you genuinely loved and cared for, but I've found that those types of friendships never really revive.

Best of luck though

canape said...

I've been thinking about this so much lately. Both the online aspect and the reconnecting aspect.

And since my online aspect is about to drastically change in the next couple of days, I can only hope that someone notices when I drop off the map. We'll see.

I feel sure that you will. As I would you.

Kristin said...

Via Facebook I have reconnected with 2 of my cousins... our parents stopped speaking about 8 years ago and our relationships just sort of faded away... I received an email about a week after I signed up and it's been a very nice and "gentle" way to get back together...

So, yes, I think you can, in this harried day and age, reconnect and reclaim relationships via FB.

Harried Mom of 3 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harried Mom of 3 said...

Don't get me started on the classmates.com site where you reconnect wtih people you haven't seen in 20 years. So weird!

Don't forget about your "real" friends who like to see you face to face. We miss you, Mamma!!

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

I'd check in on you.

nola said...

There are varying degrees of closeness. And different people have different significance to us at different times in our lives. I'd argue all you described are friends, some older-not-stayed-in-touch friends and others less personal. It's all about contact and relationships. Why worry what label it is given?

Sammanthia (teoi) said...

A good friend is hard to come by... I don't think it should matter where we find them.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

You ARE my friend...and NOTHING you can "say" will change my mind!


So...buck up sister....WE are friends! :)

I do understand what your point is...I had to really rethink the whole friend thing when someone I thought was my closest...turned out to NOT be the person I thought she was at all!

pfunky said...

You will always be my friend, even though I don't go online and read your blog...though when I saw you had a new puppy, I had to check that pic out, which brought me to your blog...and here I am.

Some friends come and go. If you have found connections with other bloggers, then they are your friends, no questions asked!

PunditMom said...

Friendship is an interesting, changing concept, isn't it? I have made wonderful friends (including you!) on blogs and still remain good friends with people I haven't seen in years, but still connect becuase of E-mail.

We can never have too much friendship, if it's real friendship.

Drinks soon??

gunfighter1 said...

Friendship means different things to different people, but I am certain that some of my many online pals are also my friends.

With the way my family operates (always on the go, like yours), I find it to be a comfort that I can reach out to friends either very late at night or very early in the morning, and know that we can be in touch, however briefly.