It seems in this age of Facebook that we’ve become a society that has given up communication. Its like, everything now is about Facebook or Twitter, which are meant to be social networking tools, not a way to upset other people, exclude them or show off. To start with, Facebook was a place where I did ‘activism’ and joined groups because of my interest in things. It seems now that it just adds to the white noise in my life – a constant nagging on my blackberry, too many groups to keep up with, too much drama in my life and the lives of those I care about. It can turn bad quickly – you don’t want to not be on Facebook, but end up spying on people and you catch yourself and feel terrible about being nosy. Isn’t that what its about – a kind of sugar-coated spying?
It can be used for good, but often it becomes a kind of obsession, especially when you’re not hearing from some people and wonder why you’ve added them as a ‘friend’ – is it because you were at school with them once upon a time, or they added you as their friends and felt guilty if you didn’t accept? There are people I’m fine about seeing my profile and keeping in touch with through facebook but there are those I’m not likely to ever meet again, who don’t necessarily care and just want to spy on you. Then if you’re going through a bad period with a friend, it all becomes a battleground, a battle of popularity and hurtful comments or poisonous spying.
It isn’t a healthy society, and more than once I’ve toyed with the idea of just leaving and keeping in touch via email, text and, a crazy thought – mail! The quality of communication has dropped by the wayside, and there are now too many people to keep up with. Its true that the more I go on Facebook, the more ‘flitting’ I do – jumping from profile to profile with no real aim, wasting good time I could use for writing or reading, or going outside for a walk. I do it much less now, but I have been through periods when I checked it every day and ended up losing hours.
Its made me question what I mean when I say someone is a ‘friend’. I’m pretty sure that I have some close friends and people I always try to stay in touch with. I think friendship is like a web – close friends in the middle, going out to acquaintances further out. There are those people you see often and even those that you don’t see that much who really matter to you. There are people who have made a difference to your life somehow but you rarely see them and just drop them a line now and then. There are those who will always be special but you don’t see them at all, and remember them fondly. Then there are acquaintances who you like and sometimes see and have a chat with in passing or who you work with or see now and then.
‘Friends’ are the people who you care about as if they were family – the kind of people you can laugh and cry with, people who aren’t afraid to be there for you when things are really bad, who you are always there for. This includes family and significant others, because you can be best friends with your sister or brother or Mum or Dad. That is part of growing up – being friends with people who have seen you in all those good and bad moments. It isn’t some sort of popularity contest – ‘who has the most friends and goes out every night’ – its emotion and sharing yourselves with people. You can be friends with yourself – in fact, that’s probably the best thing you can do because learning to spend time with yourself and take care of yourself means you’ll feel good about life and other people.
We spend a lot of time angsting about other people – what they meant by that comment, are they ignoring me, that was a strange look they just gave me – and not enough time being grateful for what we do have. I know everyone is different, and have their own priorities; but going back to the beginning and finding pleasure in the little things in life helps us to feel better about ourselves. I don’t feel like my day is complete without my morning pages, a cat sitting on my pillow when I wake up, a cup of coffee and a slice of toast. I’m grateful that I have people to talk to if I’m worried or hurt about something, and I know it will eventually be okay because I’ve been through a lot in 26 years. If you’re going through a hard time, just remember that one day, you will feel better.
“Friendship with oneself is all-important because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” – Eleanor Roosevelt