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.