I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of friendship recently. There have been a few minor crises happening around me and I have been struck by how supportive and caring my friends have been. These people have been there for me whenever things have been black; they have shared my joys and successes, hugged me when I’ve been sad and given me a kick up the backside when I’ve been lazy and silly.
And for the most part, I’ve never met them or even spoken to them on the telephone.
Ten years ago, perhaps even five, I would never have believed I could feel so close, so ‘connected’, to people I’ve never met. When I was a child, a friend was someone you went out to play and shared your sweets with. Today, thanks to a society where people are isolated by the ‘me’ culture and the growth of the internet, the entire nature of friendship has changed.
I never found making friends easy when I was a wee girl. I have documented the bullying and feelings of not belonging elsewhere on this blog, so won’t be going back over them here. I did have a few pals and made some long-term friendships when I joined the Glasgow Concert Band and then went on to University. Then came work and lots of socialising. But when I gave up work after I had my daughter my social circle began to contract again. This worsened when I became depressed and contracted fibromyalgia and pretty soon the only people I saw (apart from the staff at Tesco) were my family and doctor.
If it hadn’t been for social media, by now I’d be a lost soul, sitting in a corner rocking and singing show tunes.
My first proper on-line friend was an older woman called Eileen. We met playing, of all things, Slingo. She lived in Philadelphia with her second husband, dog and cat. I shared her joys and tears, stitched a wedding sampler for her daughter and spoke to her on the phone every month or so. Sadly, I also shared the stories of her ill health and my lovely friend passed away a few years ago. I could’t believe how much her death affected me. Thanks to Eileen I began to understand that I didn’t have to be so isolated any more.
I joined Friends Reunited and reached out to some of the kids I’d been to school with. We might not have been ‘friends’ when we were kids, but as adults we were able to be civil and ‘friendly.’ It helped me deal with all the past issues. Around this time I started playing iSketch and met loads of new people, many of whom are now connected to me on Facebook.
Ah – Facebook! I hates it with a passion, but… I also loves it. I can indulge my love of photography, vintage and all things sci fi and share it with the friends who ‘get’ me. And then there’s Twitter. If it wasn’t for the wee blue bird I wouldn’t have my own modest web design business, have taken part in #TweetTreats and started #TweeHee (yes, it’s still there, I’ve just been preoccupied with a slew of other stuff).
Thanks to the interconnectedness of the interwebz I have friends, proper friends who care about me and about whom I care deeply; I have many acquaintances who share my interests; old friends have got in touch and brought new joy into my life.
And once a year, on her birthday, I raise a glass to Eileen and thank her for being the first of my new friends.