but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.”
Did anyone else sing that song about friends in Girl Scouts or other activities growing up? I always loved that little rhyme. Making friends was not my strong suit growing up – what friends I had were always very special too me, often hard own and hard kept. I wish I could say that has changed in adulthood, but some idiosyncrasies stay with us for a long time.
Recently there has been a lot of chatter about online friends and social media. Many people are quick to proclaim that these relationships are shallow or self serving, perhaps even that there’s no way an online friendship can really be genuine.
Now I’m often one of the first decrying our time spent staring at screens instead of engaging with each other. Just the other night my husband and I were at our favorite sushi place which is notorious for having a table of 4+, early 20 somethings sitting around eating while solely engaged in their smartphones or tablets. In fact, as much as we’d like the technology ourselves we currently elect to keep those gadgets out of our lives in fear of turning into screen zombies.
But then there are our online communities. My husband has his regular RPG gaming sessions with friends both known in real life and not. Many of his friends do not live nearby and this gives them a chance to continue playing the games they enjoy with each other (often with more than one little kid or wife talking in the background). I have my “blog friends” who I communicate with via this blog, email, top secret (wink, wink) Facebook groups and even the occasional webcam chat. I have groups via Facebook that allow me to connect with Moms in town and stay in touch with friends across the country.
I can’t tell you which is better – those hard won “real life” friends or the selective group of women who make up my Facebook inner sanctum. As the rhyme tells me – one is silver and the other is gold. I love my long time “real life” friends who remember the days together as awkward teenagers, or the ones who can fill in those hazy college memories. I love when Facebook allows me to connect with an acquaintance as we grow into motherhood forming a lovely and stronger relationship than we had in college as we mature and grow. I love that I can find moms in town to break the monotony of our days and have playground dates, but not have to stress over hoping that we’ll really connect over every little thing. I love that can be selective in my online friends – finding a small group of women across the continent who are just what I need at this point in my life.
I love that I don’t have to bore my childless friends with stories they really aren’t interested in, but we can still talk about what we still have in common. That I can ask that mom with a few more years (or kids) worth of experience a tricky questions. It’s okay that not everyone might share my taste in books or my love of Doctor Who. I can enjoy my time with my childfree friends that much more knowing that there’s someone else, “real” or “online” who will ooh and ahh over the toddler picture or really know what to say over the parenting woe. That I can pick and choose who hears my joys or concerns and I can be selective and focus on sharing what only makes that particular friendship stronger.
It’s not about picking one over the other – it’s about using it all wisely. It’s about picking people in your life who support you and build you up as a person, whether they live down the road or across the country. So moms, don’t worry if you secretly love Facebook, we do too.
Linking up with the blog carnival over at Carrots for Michaelmas.