I’m Dumping The Labels And Embracing ALL Of My Friends

My grandmother knew how to have friends. She had many. Some were closer than others but she really knew how to nurture the important ones. I loved how she handled the balance.

When I was growing up I wanted to be like her but I couldn’t. I wasn’t the life of the party. I didn’t like being the center of attention. I was picky, I told myself. That’s why I have just a few close friends. I had varied interests in high school that kept me from connecting with just one group. I was an athlete – I had a few close friends there. I sang and was involved in theater – I had about 2 close friends in that group. And I was in some accelerated classes – a bit of a nerd, if you will. Since I was involved in athletics and theater the other “nerds” thought I was cool. Many of them really wanted to be my friend but they were “nerds” and I was an idiot high school student. I stayed on the fringes in my nerd classes.

My daughter is my opposite. She has about 10 best friends at age 17. And then about 50 “close” friends. Her Facebook friends number over 1000. Everyone she meets she considers a friend. I’m not sure this is a good thing.

And now, in my adult life, I have about 5 good, close friends I could call on with any problem, any joy. I’m happy with that. It’s a good number. Not as many as my grandmother and certainly not as many as my daughter – but I’m hoping she’ll become a little more discriminate as she gets older.

What I didn’t count on when I started my blog were the friends I’d meet here. Submom from The Absence of Alternatives, in one of her recent comments here,  pointed us in the direction of a very interesting blog post about internet friends and distinguishing them from “real friends.” Melissa Ford  believes there is no distinction. Friends are friends. Whether you met them in a class, at a party, in the mall or online.

As I revealed in a previous post, I met my husband online. This isn’t anything I was ready to shout from the rooftops. When people would ask how we’d met I’d often say, “At a health seminar” which was partly true. But not the whole truth. And I was ashamed of the whole truth. Meeting online, back then anyway, seemed desperate, unseemly.

When I talk about any of you to my “real-time” friends I preface it with “online friends,” as if, somehow, you are all less than or “un-real.” My real-time friends (who don’t blog or converse online with people they’ve never met in real-time) don’t get the level of intimacy we bloggers are able to achieve with one another. They don’t understand how I feel like I can truly “know” any of you. But reading Melissa’s article has me thinking – and I’m thinking that I know some of you better than I know my real-time friends.

And the more I write about this the more I am ready to abandon these labels of “real-time” and “online” when it comes to my friends. Quite honestly, there are days when I spend more time with you here than I do with my other friends.

The beauty of the internet is that it strips away pretension. Here we are basically the same. Sure, we can decorate our blogs to reveal certain things about ourselves. We can pick and choose what we want others to see. But for the most part, the ability to make judgements about others based on income level and appearances is more difficult.

Our writing reveals our true selves. Good, honest writing is what I’m drawn to. And good, honest friends are what I’ve made here. Real friends. In real-time. Oh, we haven’t met face to face but the time I spend with them – reading their posts or emails, commenting back – is very real and takes a good bit of my time.

So, like my grandmother I am nurturing the relationships that are important to me. And I want all of you to know, every minute spent here in Blog World has been worth it.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “I’m Dumping The Labels And Embracing ALL Of My Friends

  1. unabridgedgirl

    Aww. What a nice post, Jane!

  2. Love this post. I like you have a few but enough of real friends, lots of aquaintences. I think through blogging we tend to know more (as we reveal in our writing) than what some of our friends unless they read us even know. That’s why I keep my Facebook seperate from my blog. Some close friends are invited to read, but I’d feel a bit exposed (not that I’m hiding anything but really FB friends are not my few intimate friends that I share my thoughts with)if everyone I knew on FB knew my intimate thoughts. Does that sound crazy? And my sister is the opposite in that way. And she is the only one of my siblings that I’ve let in on my blog. yeah, I know I’m weird, but I guess I’m personal like that.

    • I let a few friends know that I was keeping a blog and then noticed I started censoring myself. So NO ONE in my family knows I’m doing this (except my husband).

  3. Oh, And Jane, I almost wrote a post on this today…you’ve saved me the trouble…I couldn’t have said it better. Thanks!

  4. It’s been real hard for me to make and keep friends since I left college, and now thanks to blogging, I feel like I know so many more friends that I get to keep in touch with. I feel like if I threw out a life line out there, a whole bunch of friends would grab and pull. It touches me because we all have never met face to face, but we would willingly go the extra mile for each other.

  5. I’ve been considering a similar post. I think it’s probably true that you can have friends vs acquaintances in real life as well as on-line. I have also been learning, as a blogger and as a mother of a son in sports with a husband who travels a lot, that many, if not most, people, are way more willing to be helpful than we suspect. When Angus was first in hockey and Matt was away I would feel like I had to do it all — drag him out to the arena, get his equipment on, tie his skates even though carpal tunnel has torpedoed my hand strength, all while hauling Eve around. As soon as people realized our situation, I had multiple offers to pick him up or at the very least tie his skates. Usually January is a really scary month for me mood-wise. Blogging and being in contact with on-line friends every day has helped so much more than I would have expected. There’s nothing fake about this community.

  6. I totally agree with everything you’ve said Jane. I think the wonderful thing about the blogging world is that we are less influenced by income level, age, gender, colour etc.

    That’s the beauty of on line friends. I have closer relationships with friends on-line than I do in so called real life.

  7. Love you, beautiful. I’m having a VERY hard week where I’m learning just how few and far between the friends I *thought* I had are. I think I’ll just lick my wounds and hang out in the virtual world for a while. There are some wonderful people here. xoxo

  8. I couldn’t agree more! The reality is, people who don’t blog don’t really get it. I don’t think they ever will…I’ve gotten to know many amazing women through this blogosphere and as you said, I am also drawn to good, honest writing…something the non-bloggers will never understand.

  9. As always, you manage to express thoughts I didn’t even know I was thinking today.

    I think our profiles are similar: a handful of really good friends and then this interesting, growing network of online friends. I wrote a little while back about moving toward a new definition of real – and I think that is your goal here: to stop making distinctions when distinctions don’t matter.

    Great post!

  10. Cheers to chucking the labels. I like to call my online friends “virtureal” because, yes, these friendships were fashioned in the virtual world, but they are often very real. I think it is arbitrary to assume we can’t find love or genuine, layered friendship online.

    And cheers to “good, honest writing!”

  11. This is great, Jane. Really great.
    I don’t have much time for real-life friends. My closest friends don’t even live in the same state, so we try to keep in touch as best we can over the phone, but even that is difficult–what with the three screaming banshee boys always in the background.
    I have been amazed by the friendships I have made online. Women I know I can reach out to. Women I know would catch me from afar if I were falling and help me back up again. And no, my real-life friends wouldn’t get it if I tried to explain, so I just don’t.
    It is a wonderful world here online. And the beauty of the modern day is that I don’t feel as though I have to hide it and I don’t feel as though I am copping out of “life” in any way.

    On another note, my grandfather always said that any person was lucky if they made five true and honest friends in their lifetime. I have always remembered this and I now know it is true. So you aren’t doing bad at all, my dear. Not bad at all. And this blogosphere? It is a gift that was never part of his calculations, and I think we are all lucky for it.

  12. I am just now learning how to make real friendships here online. Its so very different, but the same in some ways. I am enjoying finding people who have similar values but different perspectives. Its really cool to find little tidbits of a persons heart in her blog, or in her comments on others blogs.

    I have a lot of good friends, but I have a handful of very deeply felt, important friendships. People I would do just about anything for. And these friendships feed me in a way I can’t explain.

  13. Ambrosia

    Thank you, Jane!

    I am very lucky to be surrounded by a community, both on-line and “real”, of beautiful, wonderful woman. That includes you.

    I didn’t have many friends in high school either. In fact, I choose not to stay in touch with very many of them. My high school days were not “glory” days, I hated them.

    When I entered college I found more friends than I could have imagined. The same thing happened when I married. And when I became a mom. Each step reminds me of how much I have grown.

    I am blessed to be near to my good friends because my husband is finishing school. When we move to graduate school, I will be sad. Very sad. Thankfully, I will not have as hard of a time since I have discovered this blessed community of bloggers.

    I have started eliminating the qualifier “on-line” when I refer to my friends. To me, each of you have become my friends. If I could, I would have lunch with you weekly (or at least monthly). Instead, we have virtual lunches. Since I am a picky eater, this suits me just fine.

  14. Nicki

    I gave up distinguishing between online and real friends. My friends are my friends. Labels are pretty ugly and cause a lot of pain so let’s just give them up all together.

  15. :-)

    I also think the Internet esp. helps the Introvert amongst us (even the closeted ones) get our of the shells and share their thoughts/feelings in a way that would not be possible in real life.

  16. Great post! It is funny … I have been having very similar thoughts lately. I love all my friends, but my online bloggy buddies have become more important to me than I ever imagined they could. It is weird to have such special relationships with people I have never met, but this is a strange new world, huh?

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