It was by chance that I found out through Facebook that one of my good friends from my previous work is pregnant. It was a pleasant if a little bitter sweet news. It was a reminder that life was inexorably moving forward whether I liked it or not, and that no amount of pleading and denial was going to convince me that I’m still in my 20’s and knowing I still have “time” to do everything I wanted. I’m ridiculously happy for her and she in turn seems joyful of the news that she’s 14 weeks pregnant (how she could have missed that, I have no idea!)
And yet in the middle of it all, I feel a sense of detachment. Like I was hearing news about some old acquaintance I haven’t seen since we were high school.
This isn’t unusual, friendships..relationships fade with time and distance. But you’d think with the advent of social media it would be a whole lot easier to keep in touch. How strange that for me, that the opposite is usually true. In my experience, meeting new people through social media like Facebook isn’t bad, it allows you to connect with people some who are too far away. It’s just a matter of how deep that connection is.
It’s just that in the midst of status messages, random posts about funny cats, memes, and videos that suddenly relationships had become hollow. I see a news feed when I look at Facebook, there’s nothing personal about it, if anything it’s impersonal and that’s not what relationships should be!
I guess this is why I crave more personal interactions with friends and loved ones. Meeting them for coffee, lunch on weekends, like this habit my cousins from my mother’s side and I are recently doing. We set aside a day, once a month for dinner out of our busy schedule, ignoring the fact that even just for once a month we’d take the time to connect.
I’ve been able to rebuild bridges, and reconnected our lives, after nearly more than a decade of us not speaking to each other (long story that one).
None of us are heavy Facebook users, we don’t even have each other as ‘friends’. But that’s okay. We talk, take the time and it’s lovely. In fact, a great majority of the friends I take the effort to keep in touch, either don’t have Facebook or are Facebook “lite” users–you know, the ones who probably check their accounts once a day, or every month, or every six months to a year or never at all.
Before people get on my goat, I’d like to say that it’s not impossible to create meaningful connections online. One of my closest friends, I met her online through Second Life and we’ve been friends for more than six years. She lives in Hong Kong, and she would have made it as my Maid of Honor or at least one of my bridesmaids if I could only afford having her fly in.
And yet despite our closeness, I look so forward to finally meeting her when I visit Hong Kong for the honeymoon. Strangely enough it’s got me more excited than my actual wedding! There’s nothing quite like the excitement and the beauty when you finally get to see those special friends and see them face-to-face.
I’m not saying that we should abandon Facebook and all that, but I think it would be nice..that if you can dedicate hours that you spend online in these social networks, to try and take the time to step back, and actually spend time with the friends you can.