Thursday, March 26, 2009


I discovered yesterday as I checked my "Facebook" page that a few of my "friends" dumped me off their lists. I was surprised by my reaction to this occurrence. At first, I felt a twinge upset at the discovery but then I actually felt a little amused. One of my friends (a person I actually see and interact with) had recently had a conversation with me about whether or not it was okay to un-friend someone on Facebook once you have accepted them onto your list. My discovery was proof that it was, at least to some people, perfectly acceptable to do just that.
Now I was amused about my apparent removal from the friend list, both because of its timeliness to my recent conversation and because of many discussions my husband and I have had about Facebook over the last few months. When he and I both joined the world of online socializing we were thrilled with the whole concept. It was so much fun to build our own sites, add our info and pictures, and search the internet for friends and acquaintances we had lost touch with over the years. Tim was able to link up with many friends from high school and college. I, too, found friends from my own high school years whom I hadn’t seen or talked to since graduation. We both signed up with friends we had known when we first started dating each other. I was even able to find people I had gone to elementary school with. People I hadn’t had any contact with for over 20 years, after my family moved several states away following my eighth grade year of school. It was amazing to see those familiar faces show up on my computer screen after so much time. Of course, we all looked a little more mature but part of the fun was seeing the changes and reminiscing online about all the old memories. I was genuinely excited to recover friends I had thought about from time to time but had had no idea how to find.
Despite my excitement and the fun of the initial “oh my goodness, I can’t believe I found you” conversations, the thrill of my discoveries tended to be short-lived. Though I had great intentions of really re-connecting with these wonderful friends from my past, I found it was not as easy as I thought. In fact, after twenty years of separation, there was just too much catching up to do than could realistically be done through an online networking site. I did not know where to begin. Now, if only we could have sat down together over a mocha frappuccino and really talked I suspect the years would have just melted away and we truly could have re-established our friendship. I wanted to really re-connect with so many of those familiar faces but on the computer that is really all they could be- faces from my past and good memories to cherish.
In order to re-establish old connections, I’ve figured out that you have to actually find ways to connect. Tim and I have talked about how we’ve been let down by the whole Facebook experience. It just turns out that the computer hasn’t provided a genuine connection in the way either of us had hoped it would. Facebook hasn’t proven to be, at least for me and in most instances, as much a connection as it is a peek into the lives of others. A real friendship can not start, or even re-start, with a peek but instead needs a bond. The truth is the computer is way too impersonal, and “Facebook” gives too contrived a picture, to take the place of a face-to-face conversation.
So, for those few old “friends” who have kept me on the list, I think I may try an old-fashioned approach and sit down with a pen and paper. Maybe a hand written letter is a better way to tell them what they meant to me and how happy I am to have found them again. I know it will be more personal and meaningful to me than posting a few words on the computer for the whole world to view and chime in on. If we cannot re-connect through old fashioned “snail mail” I just might invite them to Florida so we really can meet for a heart-to-heart over some coffee. Old friends are just too valuable to delete!

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