Has Facebook Ruined Friends for Us? Wine and Chats May be the Anecdote.
By the time you get to a certain age, chances are that many of your friends may have moved away. Jobs, family commitments, downsizing, and “retirement” are just some of the reasons. So how do you keep your real friends from becoming like your “Superficial Facebook Friendships?”
Has Facebook ruined friends for us? I couldn’t help thinking about this as I recently scrolled through my Facebook feed (at 5 am in the morning when I couldn’t go back to sleep and my online newspapers hadn’t arrived, which now sounds pathetic as I read this in black and white) and realized how many posts I get from people I don’t know and have never actually met. My FB friends on my personal page now number in the hundreds, and I’m a piker compared to some of my “friends” whose “friends” number in the thousands. Do I really care about their politics, where they ate dinner last night, or where they are on vacation right now? Well about as much as they care about my posts I suspect.
And what about all those perfect people living fabulous lives on Facebook? They always look beautiful in every post and they’re doing something fabulously fun in some divine locale. It’s the “everybody’s life is perfect on facebook” syndrome. It’s kind of like Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average. Okay, I plead guilty to that too, but those posts are better than the ones from the chronic Facebook complainers who consider a delayed airline flight or a jammed packed train a tragedy.
So we all know these are superficial friendships for the most part, but yet we get pulled into the time sucker vortex of Facebook. So here was my epiphany. What if we spent some of that time actually reaching out to our real friends?
By the time you get to a certain age, chances are that many of your friends may have moved away. Jobs, family commitments, downsizing, and “retirement” are just some of the reasons. So how do you keep up these long-distance friendships?
I have three best friends who have moved away. These were friends I use to see several times a month, if not a week. Friends I could pick up the phone and say meet me for a drink in an hour. Friends I could pour out my heart to. I felt abandoned. Sure, we still see each other a few times a year, but how do you stay connected to each other’s lives? How do you keep from having your real friends become like your superficial Facebook friendships?
Well one thing I’ve learned is you make time for them – whether it’s sending funny or thoughtful emails, remembering their birthdays, sending a just because you care card. But most importantly, spending quality time with them that’s NOT in cyberspace. A text just doesn’t cut it. So I’ve chosen the old fashioned way, and that’s the phone (that device that most of our kids only use to text) but you can actually use to have a phone conversation. Sure you could do this on skype video or Facetime too, but then you’d have to look halfway decent so your friend isn’t secretly thinking how you’ve let yourself go.
You can of course just pick up the phone whenever you have a minute or two and the mood strikes you, and call one of your besties. But how many times are they a) not home or b) they have to call you back or c) politely chat for a few minutes but they really have to get something done and don’t want to be rude. But here’s a concept that a friend of mine “invented”. We call it “Wine and Chat.” Here’s how it works.
Wine and Chat
We email (or text) each about once a week and pick a time and date that works for a nice long chat – ours are usually about an hour. And since we both like wine, and relaxing at the end of the day, that’s when we schedule our calls. It’s almost like being together in person. We’re both relaxed and we’ve made the time to just focus on us. Sometimes we have big things to chat about, but usually it’s the little minutia things in life that are what make good friends, friends. And I do actually care what she ate for dinner last night, what’s she’s doing this weekend, and where her next vacation is going to be. And even though we see each other less in person now, we are still connected and stay current in each other’s lives.
By the way, this approach can work for friends you haven’t connected with in a long time too.
Here’s my suggestion. Just try it. Reach out to a friend in an email or a text and schedule a phone chat (with or without the wine, but you know where we fall on that one.)
So is there a moral to this little story today? Well to paraphrase the “Godfather”, keep your Facebook Friends close, but keep your real friends closer, and hopefully forever.
Cheryl Benton, The Three Tomatoes founder, has published her debut novel, “Can You See Us Now?” which tells the story of three best best friends since their early twenties, who seemed to have it all. Beautiful, smart, and successful, they’d made it to the top in the most demanding city of them all, New York. Then they turned 50 and found that the world which once was their oyster started closing up faster than a New York minute. Bartenders ignore them, bosses marginalize them, and they’ve aged out of the prized 25-49 year-old demographic that marketers woo. They had suddenly become invisible.
Inspired by their friendships with a supportive and thriving group of New York City women, who call themselves the “Ripe Tomatoes,” Suzy, Trish, and Madge start to realize the power of saying “YES” and that living your dreams has nothing to do with age. Available on Amazon and other booksellers.