You’ve got a friend in me.

friendship

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.

 

The social media thingamybobs:

50 Comments

  1. Gill Fraser Lee
    Oct 21, 2013

    Aaaw, here’s to Eileen and good friends xxx

    • Nettie
      Oct 21, 2013

      Thanks, Gill. I still miss her x

  2. Gill Fraser Lee
    Oct 21, 2013

    Aaaw, here’s to Eileen and good friends xxx

    • Nettie
      Oct 21, 2013

      Thanks, Gill. I still miss her x

  3. Viv
    Oct 21, 2013

    I feel very strongly the same way. I am by default isolated; no one outside of those who have lived in a manse/rectory etc really has much idea how lonely it can be, because while you can be friendly with people from the parishes, there’s a whole snake pit of dangers involved in making friends. been there, got the scars so I stay away. Illness means I’m now more or less reliant on my internet relationships to keep (don’t laugh, Nettie!) sane (ish)
    I really value you as a pal and next time we’re up in Scotland, perhaps we can meet in the flesh?

    • Nettie
      Oct 21, 2013

      I’d LOVE that, Viv! Let me know when you’re up north and I’ll do my best to meet you xxx

      • Gill Fraser Lee
        Oct 21, 2013

        You won’t regret meeting Viv. I have, and she is one of the loveliest, kindest people I know xxx

        • Viv
          Oct 21, 2013

          *blushes* thanks Gill.
          Nettie, my sister in law lives a little way from Dumfries but not sure when we’re going that far. We’re heading north in late November to stay with friends in God’s Own Country (North Yorkshire) but it rather depends on how I am coping as to whether we’ll head over the border too.
          But sure to some time, hopefully when I am well again.

  4. Viv
    Oct 21, 2013

    I feel very strongly the same way. I am by default isolated; no one outside of those who have lived in a manse/rectory etc really has much idea how lonely it can be, because while you can be friendly with people from the parishes, there’s a whole snake pit of dangers involved in making friends. been there, got the scars so I stay away. Illness means I’m now more or less reliant on my internet relationships to keep (don’t laugh, Nettie!) sane (ish)
    I really value you as a pal and next time we’re up in Scotland, perhaps we can meet in the flesh?

    • Nettie
      Oct 21, 2013

      I’d LOVE that, Viv! Let me know when you’re up north and I’ll do my best to meet you xxx

      • Gill Fraser Lee
        Oct 21, 2013

        You won’t regret meeting Viv. I have, and she is one of the loveliest, kindest people I know xxx

        • Viv
          Oct 21, 2013

          *blushes* thanks Gill.
          Nettie, my sister in law lives a little way from Dumfries but not sure when we’re going that far. We’re heading north in late November to stay with friends in God’s Own Country (North Yorkshire) but it rather depends on how I am coping as to whether we’ll head over the border too.
          But sure to some time, hopefully when I am well again.

  5. joskehan
    Oct 21, 2013

    I know where you are coming from Nettie……when I moved to Vic from WA, leaving all my friends who had been my family for most of life, I was so depressed and alone. Friends I had met on a website for Irish Authors years before kept urging me to join facebook and I kept resisting…then the website crashed and the only contact with these lovely ladies was by email which was spasmodic and totally unsuccessful…..so I bit the bullet and joined fb. The rest as they say, is history. I too hate it and love it! I have met so many wonderful friends like yourself on this crazy network, and feel we know each other better than the friends I have known in person over the years. It’s an extra joy and bonus when we reconnect with some of those friends from the past after having lost contact for one reason or another. There are many Eileens out there, bless them!!

    • Nettie
      Oct 21, 2013

      Yes! I think the physical isolation breeds an emotional intimacy. I trust my online friends far more than most of those I’ve known in real life x

  6. joskehan
    Oct 21, 2013

    I know where you are coming from Nettie……when I moved to Vic from WA, leaving all my friends who had been my family for most of life, I was so depressed and alone. Friends I had met on a website for Irish Authors years before kept urging me to join facebook and I kept resisting…then the website crashed and the only contact with these lovely ladies was by email which was spasmodic and totally unsuccessful…..so I bit the bullet and joined fb. The rest as they say, is history. I too hate it and love it! I have met so many wonderful friends like yourself on this crazy network, and feel we know each other better than the friends I have known in person over the years. It’s an extra joy and bonus when we reconnect with some of those friends from the past after having lost contact for one reason or another. There are many Eileens out there, bless them!!

    • Nettie
      Oct 21, 2013

      Yes! I think the physical isolation breeds an emotional intimacy. I trust my online friends far more than most of those I’ve known in real life x

  7. Margot Kinberg
    Oct 21, 2013

    Nettie – I’m sorry to hear you’ve some crisis things going on lately. But I couldn’t agree one bit more about how wonderful the online community is. I have been so lucky myself to have friends like you who are there when ‘those times’ hit. I hope things settle for you soon.

    • Nettie
      Oct 21, 2013

      Thank you, Margot, but things are grand. You know me!
      Nx

  8. Margot Kinberg
    Oct 21, 2013

    Nettie – I’m sorry to hear you’ve some crisis things going on lately. But I couldn’t agree one bit more about how wonderful the online community is. I have been so lucky myself to have friends like you who are there when ‘those times’ hit. I hope things settle for you soon.

    • Nettie
      Oct 21, 2013

      Thank you, Margot, but things are grand. You know me!
      Nx

  9. Lisa Shambrook
    Oct 21, 2013

    It’s been a lifesaver at times, this funny thing called the web…having been a loner myself, I have become a slightly shy social butterfly through social media and discovered real friends who as you say ‘get me’. Without it, my depression would have cornered and floored me.
    Love this interwebz thing!

    • Nettie
      Oct 21, 2013

      We should have a virtual friend day, shouldn’t we? Mind you, I don’t like the phrase ‘virtual friend’ because they are all real to me x

  10. Lisa Shambrook
    Oct 21, 2013

    It’s been a lifesaver at times, this funny thing called the web…having been a loner myself, I have become a slightly shy social butterfly through social media and discovered real friends who as you say ‘get me’. Without it, my depression would have cornered and floored me.
    Love this interwebz thing!

    • Nettie
      Oct 21, 2013

      We should have a virtual friend day, shouldn’t we? Mind you, I don’t like the phrase ‘virtual friend’ because they are all real to me x

  11. Di Horsfield
    Oct 21, 2013

    I was socially isolated. I have one friend who has been by my side through thick and thin for the last (sorry Ruth) 37yrs. When I found out I have MS she was the only one of my friends who stuck with me through my moods! Since ‘getting’ MS I have made so many amazing people, friends who I know will be with me always (and will take the burden off Ruth lol) but I value my online friends as much. Again many I would never know if it wasn’t for MS and many who have become friends by sheer wonderful coincidence.

    I wouldn’t be without FB now. It allows for speaking privately of things one would probably never share face to face and get responses all most instantly. (its cheaper than texting too!) I have learned about other countries, seen pictures of places I will never be able to vist and through the eyes of my friends, found a whole nother world.

    Thank yu to all my FB friends. You have made me a very happy bunny indeed!

    • Nettie
      Oct 22, 2013

      Oh yes, Di, it’s great to be able to connect to people who understand our ailments too. So sorry you are ill, but glad you have found people to give you the love and support you need.
      Nx

  12. Di Horsfield
    Oct 21, 2013

    I was socially isolated. I have one friend who has been by my side through thick and thin for the last (sorry Ruth) 37yrs. When I found out I have MS she was the only one of my friends who stuck with me through my moods! Since ‘getting’ MS I have made so many amazing people, friends who I know will be with me always (and will take the burden off Ruth lol) but I value my online friends as much. Again many I would never know if it wasn’t for MS and many who have become friends by sheer wonderful coincidence.

    I wouldn’t be without FB now. It allows for speaking privately of things one would probably never share face to face and get responses all most instantly. (its cheaper than texting too!) I have learned about other countries, seen pictures of places I will never be able to vist and through the eyes of my friends, found a whole nother world.

    Thank yu to all my FB friends. You have made me a very happy bunny indeed!

    • Nettie
      Oct 22, 2013

      Oh yes, Di, it’s great to be able to connect to people who understand our ailments too. So sorry you are ill, but glad you have found people to give you the love and support you need.
      Nx

  13. Tracy Kuhn
    Oct 21, 2013

    You’ve described this really well. The internet is great, when you’re having a day when you’re feeling too rubbish to go out, chatting online to friends can make you feel like you’re being sociable.
    Some people say that meeting people online is a weird way to do it because people can pretend to be someone else, but I don’t find that, I think that the people I’ve met through facebook/twitter etc are much more real than some ‘real life’ people. There’s no need to pretend.
    And of course, I met my husband online and have also made some really good friends, people who I turn to when things are a bit hard. It’s amazing how close you can feel to someone who you’ve never met, I was thinking that just this morning.
    You were one of the first people I followed on twitter, Nettie, and I’m lucky enough to have met you in real life, and you are as amazing and lovely as you appear to be online. Bonkers as they come, of course…

    xxx

    • Nettie
      Oct 21, 2013

      Aw, thank you! Especially for the bonkers bit. I mean, who’d want to be normal…?
      XXX

  14. Tracy Kuhn
    Oct 21, 2013

    You’ve described this really well. The internet is great, when you’re having a day when you’re feeling too rubbish to go out, chatting online to friends can make you feel like you’re being sociable.
    Some people say that meeting people online is a weird way to do it because people can pretend to be someone else, but I don’t find that, I think that the people I’ve met through facebook/twitter etc are much more real than some ‘real life’ people. There’s no need to pretend.
    And of course, I met my husband online and have also made some really good friends, people who I turn to when things are a bit hard. It’s amazing how close you can feel to someone who you’ve never met, I was thinking that just this morning.
    You were one of the first people I followed on twitter, Nettie, and I’m lucky enough to have met you in real life, and you are as amazing and lovely as you appear to be online. Bonkers as they come, of course…

    xxx

    • Nettie
      Oct 21, 2013

      Aw, thank you! Especially for the bonkers bit. I mean, who’d want to be normal…?
      XXX

  15. Anne Harvey
    Oct 21, 2013

    Nettie, so much of what you say resonates with me. Thank you. Because my parents were in domestic service just after the war, we moved around a lot and, as I was very shy, I found it hard to make friends. I, too, value my online friendships and feel one can really get to know someone because of what we share. Thanks so much for this.

    • Nettie
      Oct 21, 2013

      Oh, Anne, you are very welcome. I was painfully shy as a child. Not now, mind you, but I am grateful for social media for allowing me the opportunity to ‘meet’ lovely people like your good self x

      • Anne Harvey
        Oct 21, 2013

        Should have said that, because of the ups and downs of my life since then, I’ve moved around a lot since. I have tended to make friends then move on. Thankfully, I’m now more settled than I’ve every been with my lovely hubby (of 23 years) and we’ve lived here in Derbyshire for 14 happy years.

  16. Anne Harvey
    Oct 21, 2013

    Nettie, so much of what you say resonates with me. Thank you. Because my parents were in domestic service just after the war, we moved around a lot and, as I was very shy, I found it hard to make friends. I, too, value my online friendships and feel one can really get to know someone because of what we share. Thanks so much for this.

    • Nettie
      Oct 21, 2013

      Oh, Anne, you are very welcome. I was painfully shy as a child. Not now, mind you, but I am grateful for social media for allowing me the opportunity to ‘meet’ lovely people like your good self x

      • Anne Harvey
        Oct 21, 2013

        Should have said that, because of the ups and downs of my life since then, I’ve moved around a lot since. I have tended to make friends then move on. Thankfully, I’m now more settled than I’ve every been with my lovely hubby (of 23 years) and we’ve lived here in Derbyshire for 14 happy years.

  17. Marilyn Dalla Valle
    Oct 21, 2013

    Hi Nettie,

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful friends with me. I, too, have met a great group of people online.

    Marilyn

    • Nettie
      Oct 22, 2013

      Thank you, Marilyn. I’m glad you have found your friends on the interwebz too.
      Nx

  18. Marilyn Dalla Valle
    Oct 21, 2013

    Hi Nettie,

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful friends with me. I, too, have met a great group of people online.

    Marilyn

    • Nettie
      Oct 22, 2013

      Thank you, Marilyn. I’m glad you have found your friends on the interwebz too.
      Nx

  19. Abi Burlingham
    Oct 22, 2013

    Aw, this is a lovely post, Nettie, and I heartily agree. Some of my best friends are people who I ‘met’ on twitter, and a lot of these I have subsequently met up with – these are the people who have been most supportive to me as a writer and who give me so many giggles and enrich my world. As you say, you connect with people who ‘get you’ in a world where so many don’t even take the time to try.

    • Nettie
      Oct 22, 2013

      Yes! In real life people are often too busy going about their own lives. If people are using social media it’s generally because they want to be sociable. or sell something…
      ~;0)
      Nx

  20. Abi Burlingham
    Oct 22, 2013

    Aw, this is a lovely post, Nettie, and I heartily agree. Some of my best friends are people who I ‘met’ on twitter, and a lot of these I have subsequently met up with – these are the people who have been most supportive to me as a writer and who give me so many giggles and enrich my world. As you say, you connect with people who ‘get you’ in a world where so many don’t even take the time to try.

    • Nettie
      Oct 22, 2013

      Yes! In real life people are often too busy going about their own lives. If people are using social media it’s generally because they want to be sociable. or sell something…
      ~;0)
      Nx

  21. Glynis Smy
    Oct 22, 2013

    Ah, Nettie, I too lost my first writing friend, and we had never met but contacted every day without fail for years. I feel your pain. Hugs.
    My online friends kept me connected with the writing world while I lived in Cyprus, now I am back in the UK, in about three weeks I will actually meet some of them at a conference. More exciting than Christmas for me!

    Depression is a horror, and these friends are so supportive, as you have been in the past. Although I have never written too much about it, the times I have reached out, folk have helped. People knock the social media but I think, when handled properly it is like have 1001 pen-pals without licking stamps or trudging to the post office.

    Hugs and waves from one end of the country to the other. X

    • Nettie
      Oct 22, 2013

      You are so right, geographical location means nothing to our online friends. I know that wherever I might go to live in the future, you lot will come with me. Thank you for sharing your experiences too, Glynis xxx

  22. Glynis Smy
    Oct 22, 2013

    Ah, Nettie, I too lost my first writing friend, and we had never met but contacted every day without fail for years. I feel your pain. Hugs.
    My online friends kept me connected with the writing world while I lived in Cyprus, now I am back in the UK, in about three weeks I will actually meet some of them at a conference. More exciting than Christmas for me!

    Depression is a horror, and these friends are so supportive, as you have been in the past. Although I have never written too much about it, the times I have reached out, folk have helped. People knock the social media but I think, when handled properly it is like have 1001 pen-pals without licking stamps or trudging to the post office.

    Hugs and waves from one end of the country to the other. X

    • Nettie
      Oct 22, 2013

      You are so right, geographical location means nothing to our online friends. I know that wherever I might go to live in the future, you lot will come with me. Thank you for sharing your experiences too, Glynis xxx

Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This