Posts Tagged ‘internet’

One Hit Wonder Friends

Posted: January 13, 2012 in Life, Relationships
Tags: , , ,

You know what it’s like.  You meet someone new – perhaps a friend of a friend on a night out, maybe someone in a group who you vaguely know about but aren’t actually friends with or perhaps someone at work who you bump into in the corridor once in a while.  Then suddenly you’re ‘friends’ on Facebook, even though you probably have nothing in common with them!  What is it about social networking sites that makes us want to ‘collect’ people we have little interest in outside the virtual world?  How on earth can we have 600 or so ‘friends’?!  It’s just not possible – realistically it’s more like a handful of real friends and hundreds of people that you’ve met briefly in your life! And yet there is nothing that makes me feel more inadequate and unpopular than to compare the number of Facebook friends I have (216, some of whom I actually know!) to the number that a lot of my friends have!   Slightly pathetic I know but I’m sure I’m not the only one!

Strange, ironic even, that something which is intended to bring people together and make it easy for people to keep in touch with each other actually has the opposite effect.  How many meaningful conversations do we really have on Facebook?  Isn’t it just more of an outlet for our voyeuristic tendancies?  We can safely keep watch on other people’s lives, know who they’re going out with, who they’ve broken up with, who they’re engaged to, where they go on holiday, even watch their children grow up, all without even having to leave our armchair!  And we forget that people know they’re being watched on Facebook and will often carefully construct their status updates for maximum effect!  To let everyone know “hey guys, my life is really great at the moment” or “things are going badly, I need some sympathy” or even subtle messages aimed at a specific person (ex’s for example!).  Or just to be seen as really clever and witty…!  We all do it.  Few of my friends are truly honest and open in their Facebook status updates – the ones that are I often read and think “noooooooo!  That’s such a bad idea”!  Sometimes raw human emotion is hard to take.  You really don’t want to be reading about it on Facebook!  Because Facebook is after all just a method of keeping a superficial eye on what a lot of other people are doing and trying to show that your life is just as good / fulfilling / satisfying as everyone else!  It’s a place to be seen with your hair up and your Sunday best on! Rather like a box at the opera!  Treat it like that and it serves a purpose!

I’m relatively choosy about who I accept friends requests from but even so in reality many of my friends probably don’t even count as aquaintences! Some I will probably never meet again! They’re one hit wonders in my life – they must have done something at some point to warrant being a friend but it was probably a long time ago and nothing interesting has happened since.  Still, at least I have over 200 friends to show off about to those who have less….!

Don’t get my wrong! I like Facebook.  But i’ve had cause to really think about my friendships over the last few months – how I treat my friends and how they treat me.  Sometimes I’m lazy and I use Facebook as an easy way of reminding someone I’m still there rather than pick up the phone or send them an email or a card.  That’s not being a good friend!  Sometimes, even when I see them every day, I take their friendship for granted and forget that it’s a two way street and I need to work at it too. That’s not being a good friend either!  And other times I over react to something they do, say stupid things that I immediately regret and spend the next day trying to make it up! Sometimes I wonder why anybody actually wants to be friends with me I treat them so badly!  But there’s the essence of a true friendship – whatever you do there’s normally a way back.  Your true friends understand you and why sometimes you act a bit crazy or just get caught up in other stuff!  Having a few friends who always accept you for who you are is far more valuable than having 600 friends who don’t know the real you so look after them well.  Facebook may chronicle your life but it’s your real friends who will help you live it!

Blog’s it all about?

Posted: August 7, 2010 in Blogging
Tags: , , ,

God, I love this blogging business!  It’s only four days since I started my very first blog and already I’m addicted.  I used to spend hours on Facebook, updating my status, responding to comments, searching for new statuses to add my thoughts to; now it barely gets a look in.  As soon as I get up in the morning my mind starts thinking of possible stories for today’s post.  By the time I get to work I already have several ideas of what I could write about and it’s not long before they start bumping into each other, vying for the top space, hoping to make it onto my blog.  Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate because all I really want to be doing is updating my blog!  As soon as I have chance I log into my account and start writing a draft of my new post.  I know I’m not the best writer in the world; I don’t have much to say that is of any importance; my posts are not overtly intelligent, witty, funny or insightful and my knowledge of the english language appears limited compared to other bloggers.  But still I write in the hope that maybe one day someone will read my blog and find something in it that interests them or makes them think or perhaps just makes them chuckle for a second or two. 

And yet, I see the very real dangers of becoming ensconced in a virtually virtual world, writing for an audience that you will never know, never see, never truly understand.  The Internet is surely a haven for people with limited social skills – if it’s not possible to gain respect and appreciation in real life then you can log onto the Internet and find it there.   Anonymous producers of words which may or may not be truthful can find comfort from ego boosting comments on their ramblings; people you would never converse with in real life suddenly appear interesting and exciting when you read their innermost thoughts on the internet.  You could be a social hermit or obese recluse in real life but on the Internet you can be anyone your imagination allows you to be.   And therein lies the problem.  Blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting (I could go on!) may be mentally stimulating as well as a quick and easy way of getting your thoughts out to the world but it also encourages solitude and deceptively social but only virtual interaction.  Ever since the advent of email and the World Wide Web the world has been virtually shrinking but the distance between us as people has been growing.  Why go and talk to someone when you can send them an email?  Why meet a friend when you can Facebook them or follow their tweets?   I’m afraid I am as guilty of this as the next person but I am happy to say that it is mostly because I’m so busy in real life, not just in virtual life, that I’m left struggling to keep up with everything.  My blogging promise to myself is that I don’t become so addicted to divulging my random thoughts to all and sundry that I forget I have a life!    

I know that probably no-one will read this post once I hit the publish button but even so my thoughts will be out there, floating in the Internet Ether, ready to be read by anyone across the globe who happens across it at any time.  That’s quite a scary thought!  Still the point is that all this virtual interaction has a place in today’s society – we acknowledge and accept its limitations, its dangers but revel in the opportunities it offers us to connect with people, to be taught and to be the teacher.  And if it provides an outlet for those to whom life has been unkind and allows them to express thoughts that they could never do in real life or to real people then surely the world is a richer place for it.