Social Media & Friendships

by

I’ve had the same best friend since 1988. Her name is ALo, and I would take a bullet for her.

ALo and I met at a summer job — we were day camp counselors — and our relationship was solidified at Chopin Park. We loved boys, we loved animals, we had a mutual distaste for Algebra class at Mother Guerin. It seems like so long ago. I remember when ALo was a super-fly dancer and loved Chicago house music. She remembers when I dyed my blonde hair black.

For the record, I sat on her toilet while she used hydrogen peroxide to turn my black dye to a nice shade of purple. If that’s not a friendship, I don’t know what is.

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While I love social media, and while I’m all for the development of friendships through technology, nothing can replace the intimacy of time spent together doing random, stupid shit and getting to know one another. One of my dearest friends in the world writes ColsBlog. She was introduced to me via social media by the wife of an ex-boyfriend.

Did you catch that?

  • I met a guy online in 2001 when my husband and I were ‘on a break’. [revised for clarification: before Ken and I were married]
  • The ex-boyfriend and I broke up after a few months.
  • Then I married Ken in 2002.
  • The ex-boyfriend started blogging.
  • I decided to start blogging in 2004 thanks to him. (We can thank or blame JB for Punk Rock HR.)
  • The ex-boyfriend met his wife — who was also a blogger.
  • I became internet-friends with the ex-boyfriend’s wife.
  • Then I met the wife in real life.
  • The wife introduced me to another friend of her who blogged.
  • I met the other blogger in real life.
  • I went on vacation with my two new girlfriends. We drank & ate & did stupid shit together. We did not blog.
  • Those two girlfriends introduced me to Colleen.
  • Colleen and I became friends in real life.
  • My friendship with Col includes copious amounts of email and text messages, but when I’m in NYC, we spend time doing stupid shit together.

Again, all of these relationships started online — but they were cemented in the real world over the course of several years.

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If I’ve learned one thing from my experience as a blogger, it’s that life takes time. Relationships that burn white hot & fast on the internet rarely last — and they never satisfy.

Foundational work seems unnecessary in the world of instant connections & shared intimacy on the web; however, I believe it’s worth slowing down and investing some time in the infrastructure of a relationship. Even I have to remind myself that some of you are friends on the internet but not true friends in real life. If we are meant to be true friends, we will stop ourselves from getting caught up in the newness of an e-friendship. We will spend time together in real life eating M&Ms and talking about nonsense. We will have dinner, stumble through awkward silences, and talk about our hopes & dreams & other random crap.

And if it works out, it will be great.

It just takes time.

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