*Be sure to watch the video I posted yesterday before reading this post.
“I share therefore I am”. It’s ironic to consider as I sit here writing my thoughts and feelings to share with you. The narrator says, “We use technology to define ourselves by sharing our thoughts and feeling even as we’re having them”. For 30 days this is exactly what I’m doing. Every day I sit down and share my feelings with the worldwide web, with many people I will never meet. I have viewers from over 35 countries.
I have 560 “friends” on Facebook. I think there is a lot of benefit to social media, don’t get me wrong. I have a dear friend; we just went out for Ethiopian food this week. We hadn’t spoken for close to six years when I posted on Facebook that I was moving to Atlanta. She saw my post and said that she now lived in Atlanta; she helped me find an apartment when I first moved here. In the past three years, I cherish the times I get to see her.
But it is also true for many in my generation and more in the next that our experiences are whittled down to what pictures we can share and how many “likes” our statuses get.
How is it possible to live in a world of so much connection and still feel so alone? I think it’s true that people yearn for real connection. We hunger for it but as the video says, “we are lonely but we’re afraid of intimacy.” While I am most certainly an introvert, in the truest sense of the word meaning I gain energy from my alone time, I also realize the importance of real friendships. Not the friendships that I edit online where I can pick the best pictures and tell you “Happy Birthday” because Facebook reminded me to. The video says, “Instead of building true friendships we’re obsessed with endless self-promotion.”
I’m talking about those true friendships where I’m able to cry in front of you without feeling ashamed, laugh until I cry and tell you how I really feel about something without worrying that you’ll stop loving me because of my opinion on immigration, ObamaCare or Trayvon Martin.
I do not have 560 of these kinds of friends. But I do have quite a few. The relationships took time to build; they take time to maintain. My friends have learned to put up with my “brutal” honesty and my careless words. They have seen me at my worst whether that was as a high spirited, independent teenager, a rebellious and sometimes depressed college student, a Mephloquine-crazed Peace Corps Volunteer or the bulldozer I can be now. Some have been with me from the start and others have learned to love me along the way.
Like the video said (in not so many words), you can’t edit real life. With real intimacy comes the possibility of exposing things that aren’t so pretty; things you may not like about yourself. Henry David Thoreau said it this way, “True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance.”
I’ve heard and read that it’s hard to find that “true friendship”; I haven’t found it to be so. It requires trust and the knowledge that people fail. No one is perfect. Your friends will not always be there for you and they will disappoint you. But friendship is too precious a thing to let that stop me from opening my heart. I will end with a quote from C.S. Lewis, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”