If you are like millions of other people, you have visited one or more social networking sites on the internet. Two of the most popular sites are MySpace and Facebook. Wikipedia reports that MySpace, with its 118 million users, had been number one site until June of 2008 when Facebook passed them. Since then FB has grown to, a reportedly, 400 million users worldwide. These sites offer the opportunity to make friends, develop personal profiles, post to blogs, join groups, and upload photos, music, and videos.
And because of this phenomenon, the concept of a “friends list” is familiar to most of us. Your friends list is comprised of the people you consider worthy of conversation. People you enjoy interacting with and on some level trust with information about yourself.
There is no doubt that people make lasting and important connections with folks they meet online. But I have a lot of questions. Am I able to really feel emotionally connected to people I never see face to face or touch? Do I even need emotional connections? Can’t I get along just fine avoiding the intimacy that developing “real life” friendships would require? And just who from my friends list will visit me in the hospital, help me paint the house, stand beside me in court or at the graveside of a loved one? Even more importantly who will I be able to help in a tangible way when tragedy strikes them?
I read a quote recently that struck a vibrant chord with me and started me thinking about these things. “The friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away." Barbara Kingsolver
There are times when words fail us. There are times when words are not enough. There are plenty of times that words cannot fix a thing but we use them anyway to try to help make sense of life with its twists and turns. Social networking is a phenomenon built primarily on words and the occasional two-dimensional picture download. And plenty of people like it that way. But there is something about sitting with a friend, being fully present, that all the crafted and interesting words in the world will not replace. We need other people and other people need us. We may not always know the right thing to say, but we can take the time to develop relationships and be a true friend. We each can be the friend who does not stay away. Spend some time with your friends today. Today Counts.