Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Friends: What does it take to be?

In response to Prodigal Blogger...

Sarah’s post today had my head spinning – not because it was a complex or an extremely deep piece of writing, but rather, it got me thinking of so many things simultaniously. As I write this I am going to try to sort it all out so it makes sense. Things usually do once you put them in print.

She spoke of something close to my heart and that’s people – specifically friendships, connections and their dynamic.

The comment:

“What to call her? I almost said, “My friend, Olga…” but I thought, “Friend? You’ve never even met the woman!” Then I thought about “blogger buddy”… but if you don’t blog, then you wouldn’t get it. I finally said, “A woman I know…””
got me thinking. What DOES it take to gain the status of “friend”? I suppose this quiestion could open up a whole discussion on friendships in general, but I’d like to keep this discussion as closely tied to the comment as possible. The question could then become “What does it take to gain the status of “friend” when all you do is correspond electronically?”

Does it matter?
Do you have to be “in person”?
Is not the written word simply another form of communication?

Dictionary.com defines “friend” as:
1. A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
2. A person whom one knows; an acquaintance.
3. A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.
4. One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement: friends of the clean air movement.
5. Friend A member of the Society of Friends; a Quaker.

By definition then, you don’t necessarily have to have met someone to consider them a friend. Sometimes it’s far easier to get to “know” someone by their writing – especially in the blogging world. I’ve come to recognize that so many of us will bear our souls to the screen and the unseen face LONG BEFORE we EVER trust in someone enough to do so face-to-face. It’s like a safety net, I suppose – being that one step removed in the communication process.

Would you not agree that it’s easier to throw our problems on the page and post than to hold somone’s hand, tell them our troubles and fears and leave ourselves vulnerable and open to the naked eye?

Of course, some will agree, others won’t.

There are those as Sarah’s pointed out who are “dead set against blogging. …it is just plain weird.” The argument “Why don’t people actually sit down face to face and have a conversation?” is quite valid in my opinion. I asked the same question of the friend of mine who first got me to “instant message” – in those days on ICQ. She lived three districts over from me, and I couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t just pick up the blasted phone – or better yet, just meet at the pub for a bevy!

Is it boarderline “anti-social” to blog because it’s not “in person”?

Is blogging another form of communication that has opened up a vast number of opportunities to meet people from places and cultures that we normally wouldn’t ever have known existed?

It’s quite obvious to me that friendships and bonds develop in the blogosphere.

“I was shocked… felt a bit betrayed… angry… and sad. “How could he just leave like that? Without a word to anyone? Where the hell did he go?” I wondered.”

Are these not the feelings of having lost a friend?

In this blogger’s opinion, yes, friendships are real here – however they simply take a form different than that of our in-person relationships.

Other things I thought about when I read the post:

-I, too missed our lost and lurking friend – absolutely thrilled to see he’s returned!

-“I actually had the fellow’s e-mail address somewhere and I knew his name. I could have Googled him or something, I suppose… tried to stay in contact. But really… what’s the point? I figure that if someone decides the time is right to walk away, you let them go.”

This happened to me when I was 10. We moved districts and I lost touch with some dear friends simply by not calling! How silly is that? At 10 I figured that’s just what you do when you can’t readily walk to their house for a visit. Funny thing is, I bumped into them both last November – 25 years after the fact. I made it clear I wanted to stay in touch – “here’s my number…” and to this day I have not heard from them. I suppose “if someone decides the time is right to walk away, you let them go.” – happens, but it isn't always comforting - right or wrong.

-With reference to the ham radio parallel to blogging – spot on!

So really, whether you’re near or far, communicate by pen, screen or the spoken word, the feelings we feel for our friends of all connections are very real, and THAT’S what makes a friendship – in my humble opinion.


Granny said...

On a personal note.

During my bad times (family illness etc.), friends came in from all over (including you and Sarah) with thoughts and prayers. The same when I was "flamed" in an extremely ugly way.

I was isolated except for family before the computer. I no longer feel that way.

And yes, I say my friends or my online friends when I'm talking about them to "live" people.

Expat Traveler said...

friendz - those are the ones who you dont talk to for years and still have stuff in common. They are the ones you've known for 20 years or more... no deep thoughts here.

pissed off patricia said...

I met an 80+ year old gentleman through an email he sent to me. I had posted a piece on a website and he had some suggestions for me. Even though I am much younger than he, we began to email one another. He showed me the world through wonderful literature and music. He burned several cd's for me of his favorite music. All kinds of music (big band, jazz, classical) and each cd came with the name of the song, singer or band, and why it meant something to him. He suggested books for me to read. These were books I probably would not have found on my own. I loved this gentleman like the father and grandfather I always wished that I could have had. He was my friend in every way. I never saw his face or heard his voice. He is ill now and cannot correspond with me, probably never will again. You have no idea how many times I think of him, miss him and cry because he is no longer in my life.
You surely can make deep and lasting friendships via this magical internet.

oshee said...

Well, of course you can call us friends. Well, maybe not me as this is my first visit to your blog and well, we're still in that getting to know each other phase. I wrote a post all about this when I first started seriously blogging. Blogging attaches me to the world in a very real way. And I am glad that I found you. (I followed a comment you made at A/C's place.)

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P. said...

Great topic. I now have many friends of varying degrees of friendliness, so to speak. This wasn't always the case for me as I was quite introverted when I was younger. I tended to have one or two very close friends and everyone else didn't matter.

As I grew out of that phase (early 20's), I came to realise that I was looking for qualities in others more than I was looking for qualities in myself. As soon as I started making efforts towards being a better person, I started making many more friends and was a much happier person for it.

Blogging is a continuation of my efforts to be more extroverted and trying to reach out to others. When I manage to write something that is interesting in some way, I tend to get comments and make friends. The fact that the people leaving the comments are half a world away or right next door matters little because any new friend makes my life richer. And that's the whole idea as far as I'm concerned :)

"The only way to have a friend is to be one."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sarah Elaine said...

Nice post, Dave.

Turtle Guy said...

GRANNY - Support, emotional and otherwise takes many, many forms and somehow this connection to the electronic world does something for all of us because behind every blog post is... surprise! A human being!

EXPAT - I have probably more of those 20 year friends than the average bear... a testiment to the kind of people in my life. Keeping in mind, of course, the 20-year friend started as we all do, at day one. The day-one friends are just as valuable.

P.O.P. - A touching tale - one for the memoires, I think! Welcome to day one!

OSHEE - Welcome, and thank you! A day-one friend... how does it feel?

PATRICK - I'm an extrovert... and I always claim "with introverted tendencies"! I relate to a lot of what you've said. That safety net of the blogging world - one step removed - is an excellet tool for coming out of your shell! My friend B. quotes RWE frequently.

oshee said...

Hmm..is this day-two? He he
I think day two feels even better than day one!

smiley said...

Well I think a friend is someone whom you trust and you open up with all your thoughts and when you look at it like that blogging buddies are certainly friends though we haven't met.

Ofcourse I prefer to interact with my friends personally, on the phone or meeting up with them, but this is a great way of getting to know many people you wouldn't have otherwise.

I am relatively new to bloggin, as I started only last month, but I've already met many people from many countries and backgrounds I think it's really cool. I also found many who have intrests like mine.

About Me

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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
English student, Pottery enthusiast, Yoga novice and lover of all people. I make friends over a warm handshake and a beverage. I discover, every day, someone willing to help me along my path.