Friends and Facebook

   Facebook is such a double-edged sword.  One on hand, it's a great way to keep in touch with people.  Not so long ago, if a work buddy or an acquaintance moved or even changed their phone number, it was questionable if you'll ever see them again.  "Whatever happened to ole so-and-so?!  She was so fun!"  "I think she moved to Boston.  Becca saw her a last year and said she looked great!"  And I can't even begin to imagine how new parents ever used to maintain relationships with friends before facebook.  "Whatever happened to those two?"  "Well, you know after they had that baby she stopped returning my phone calls and I wasn't going to beg to be her friend anymore."    


   On the other hand, facebook makes it very difficult to lose touch with people.  Since social networking sites are just that, a network, then everyone is intertwined.  Mutual friends, ghosts from your past, mistakes from years ago, they never go away now.  Those uncomfortable or revealing conversations or situations have made a permanent stamp in cyber space that can be revisited forever, or until facebook becomes an obsolete form of communication like a hand-written letter.

   For me, facebook has been my lifeline to a social life.  I can stay involved in my friends' every day lives.  I know how their mother has been recovering in the hospital, how their vacations went, and I can study the names of the kids and husbands that I always forget!  Sometimes, I even get the opportunity to offer a few encouraging words when they meltdown on their page at 3am.  I love being able to have a conversation with someone, completely at our leisure, and they can't hear my kids screaming and fighting over My Little Ponies in the background.  Texting has been a lifesaver in this respect as well.  A few years ago I asked my mom, "How did you ever have a phone conversation when we were little?"  "Well," she replied, "I'd try and get to the phone in the kitchen before it stopped ringing (before answering machines existed) because it had that long cord."  Oh my goodness.  I totally remember the long corded phone!  My kids would have had that thing wrapped around their neck twice before I even had a chance to find out who was on the other line.  God bless you, technology.
All this 1950's housewife's missing is a cocktail in her out-stretched hand.
   However, keeping in touch with some of my friends via the web has proved detrimental to our relationships.  And I'm not saying I find that a problem.  One of the beauties of facebook, and other social networking sites, is its ability to shed light on an issue brighter and faster than in real life.  Let's face it- most people are dishonest much of the time, especially in an outlet that will reach everyone in their family, their significant other's family, their friends, their friend's friends, their parents' friends, and anyone and everyone they've ever worked for/with.  And what's most interesting, is exactly what people choose to omit online. 

   Facebook has either exposed some liars, or made other ones better at lying.  Either way, the written word on everyone's pages makes people progress much quicker into, or out of, their relationships.  Some commit to exclusivity quicker than they would normally, and some are able to sabotage their own marriage at near light speed, simply with a click of a mouse.  Some invite people into their lives based on their own facebook persona, only for the other to find out so abruptly that it was all a ruse.  In fact, our marriages/child-rearing philosophies/theologies/ideas of a good time do not match up.  Sometimes, they aren't even in the same universe.  If this type of communication did not exist, and we were all thrust back into phone calls, going shopping with our kids, the occasional dinner date, etc., I don't think I would have realized just who my friends should be for a long, long time. 

    When I was a young girl, I really enjoyed being a Girl Scout.  I loved all the lessons in the outdoors, I loved learning new things and collecting the according patches, and I loved having a built-in group of friends to play, sing, and go camping with!  I have so many vivid memories from those few years, including the songs we used to sing.  To this day, I still sing "Down by the banks..." to my girls while I try to teach them how to clap in a circle. 

"Down by the banks of the hanky panky
Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky
With an eep, ipe, ope, op,
Ee-sock-a-diddly and go KERPLOP!"

But the one I can't help but think about regularly is:

"Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold."

   Guess what ladies?  Just because your old friends are still around doesn't make them gold.  It's ironic that when we are little, our idea of a fun time is gathering together to giggle and imagine.  But when we "grow up," a good time becomes separating to giggle and point.  When we're younger, we absorb each other into our own teams, we cheer each other on, and we wear matching friendship bracelets.  When we're older, some are consumed with severing ties, cutting other women down, and creating little sub-groups.  It's amazing how many friends I have when my life is coming apart at the seams, and how many friends I have when I'm genuinely happy.  It's also astounding some think I'm dumb enough to believe their lies, and weak enough to be told lies in the first place. 

   It's even more fascinating that some men actually have this aspect of life figured out.  (Ha.)  When it comes to relationships, men just don't take things so seriously.  Don't believe me?  Have you ever heard a man say this, "The guys went to watch the game on Sunday and nobody called me to invite me," or this, "Steve was talking about me behind my back so I'm not going to his wedding"?  Nope.  They tell it like it is, they don't get all wrapped up in emotions, and they don't exclude people over silly, meaningless things.  I know it is much more difficult for women to take this route because we are complicated creatures, but I think we'd all be a little bit happier if we could at least try.
   For the connections I have the chance to continue to nurture, I am grateful.  For the connections that have slipped through my fingers and perished or I eliminated, I am also grateful.  Other than the affairs that have been initiated on facebook, and the severe addictions that have taken control over so many, I think Facebook is great.  It certainly has been a beneficial and productive force in my life.  But, if you're going to be my "friend," please save us both some substantial time and energy- tell it like it is, or tell someone else.

   Lastly, Maya Angelou, we might need to make an addendum to one of your delightful quotes:

“I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

...and facebook......kidding.  The truth that wonderful woman speaks is unnerving.  Plan on hearing a lot more from her here.

Speaking of Christmas lights...


  1. Are you saying I'm not a "complicated creature"?

    1. If, anonymous person, you are male then you are simple. Sun, sports, food, sex + beer = man. Did I forget anything? :-)

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