The other day, I was tweeting away when Honey comes in and says “Why do you spend so much time on Twitter and Facebook with those fake friends when you have real people right in front of you?” Now, I know that was Honeyspeak for “I miss you. Get off the computer and come sit by me.” But that wasn’t the first time he alluded to people I talk to on social networks as “fake people” or “fake friends.” Honey doesn’t do social networking, so it would be easy to say that he just doesn’t get it, but he did have a point. Why would I spend so much time with people online when I am surrounded by “real” people?
The truth is I love getting on Facebook and Twitter and finding out what people are up to. It is amazing to me that I can chat with people all over the world in real time. People from
Japan and have read my blog. How crazy is that? Social networking puts the world at your fingertips. I have connected with some of the most amazing people I never would have met otherwise. Russia
The question is: are they my friends? When I looked up “friend” online, I was amazed at all of the different definitions I found, and don’t even bother looking up social networking unless you want to be overwhelmed with information. They have tons of articles dedicated to social networking and friendship. “Friending” or being “Friended” has even been added to some dictionaries, but that doesn’t answer the question.
As I have said in previous blogs, I see Facebook and Twitter as different beasts. Facebook is a little more intimate mostly because my family uses it, so it is a great way for me to keep in touch with them and share family pics and information. Plus you aren’t limited to a certain number of characters like Twitter (although it is amazing what you can tell about people in 140 characters or less). People are able to say and share more there, and I don’t have as many people to keep track of.
Twitter on the other hand is crazy. It is a shotgun of personalities, advertisements, conversations, pictures, links, comments, etc. I have over 1500 followers now, and I find it really hard to keep up sometimes. Am I close to every one of them? No, but there are a handful of people I have really connected with and chat with on a regular basis. I care about them. We discuss personal issues. We talk about things that drive us crazy and our hopes and dreams about writing. We wish each other good luck for important events, talk about our families, and support each other with retweets, book reviews, joining/reading blogs, buying each others books - the kind of things that friends would do for each other. They send me tweets that make me smile, and I love to do the same for them.
So are people I meet on Facebook and Twitter my friends? I say yes. It may not be what people think of when you talk about traditional friendship, but I don’t think it makes those relationships any less meaningful. I get a cup of coffee in the morning and look forward to sitting down for awhile and chatting with people on Facebook and Twitter. I try to encourage people when they are down, celebrate when they post accomplishments, send prayers when they suffer loss or get sick, laugh at jokes, and appreciate kind words sent my way. I think about them when I am not online and wish them all the blessings life has to offer. If that isn’t friendship, I don’t know what is.