The Facebook: Social Media and Real Friends
I recently saw a post from an acquaintance on Facebook which implied that he believed that the number of his friends in the application indicated how important he was.
It seemed an odd leap of logic to me but I was prompted to see how many ‘friends’ I had accumulated over the years and was both saddened and surprised by the number. It indicated that I was neither famous nor a hermit and it made me think about who these people are and were in my life and how they got there and why I keep them as friends.
Most of them are not family. I have a small family by any standard and I’m happy to note that all but my mother are ‘friends’. A scant few are people I went to school with. Most of us don’t have a lot in common anymore aside from working in the industry. I moved away from my school town many years ago while the majority of them stayed to make their careers in Canada.
No, most of them are the people I have met and worked with. They are stage managers, riggers, lighting teams, audio technicians, divers, writers, steel workers and drivers, engineers and designers.
They are the ones who, when the going got tough, banded together and made the job go, if not better, then a lot more enjoyable. You would recognise them; the ones you meet at the bar every night where battles are fought and refought, where that one thing you thought you should have said in a challenging moment is what you declared you said and wished it was so.
The ones who made you laugh at adversity, the ones who were there to commiserate and also the ones who sat solving the problems or arguing a point until resolution, exhaustion or fog took over.
And they are also the ones who were there to celebrate the victories, the birthdays and anniversaries, and the orphan holidays.
I also discover things about them through our long distance friendships which I didn’t know before; that this one loves pugs, this one has a humorous kink for lampreys, this one has been volunteering in refugee camps, this one’s favoured vacation spot is Iceland and this one is afraid of spiders.
They are all rare beasts. We meet again on projects in strange lands, sometimes years from when we last connected. We catch up on details but the broad strokes of our lives have been noted, retained, commented on, liked and disliked between then and now. It’s a simplification of the other life, the face-to-face life. It gives the impression that we remain connected even when we are worlds apart. Yet even still we manage to commiserate, to celebrate, to fight, to make up again from a distance. It makes the world smaller somehow.
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