Can facebook friends become more real, than real friends? Is it possibly real friends aren’t any more real, than virtual friends, just more solid? Not in the sense of a solid friendship, but rather as an observable physical object, which has mass and occupies space.
This spur of the moment musing has been prompted by the realization that I seem to be more real to my facebook friends, some of whom I have never met face to face, than to the group of women forming my book club. Well, my former book club. Even though these ladies weren’t life-long friends, neither with me, nor with each other, as we’re all foreigners of varying backgrounds, thrown together quite accidentally in Atenas, Costa Rica, I enjoyed their company since joining the group in the Summer of 2010.
There is an ongoing dispute about the degree of awfulness of our electronically charged contemporary lives. Especially members of my own generation and above, us fuddy-duddies, shaking our heads and raising our censorial index fingers, lament all these youngsters being glued to their screens, rather than interact human to human. We’ve all read the stories about relationships ended via SMS and private parts globally twittered. And the same goes for facebook. It can be distracting and silly. Nonetheless it allows me to stay in touch easily with far-flung humans, groups and organizations, I happen to care about. It gives me a forum in which to promote my pictures and to see other people’s work. Granted, I have a few friends with whom communication is limited, owing to my own ignorance and the poor Turkish translation skills of an electronic entity called google. But it’s all about Kangals and we mostly exchange pictures of our dogs, captions optional. I’ve noticed that there is a pleasant etiquette in place on facebook. When you comment on someone’s post, there’s almost always a thank you, at minimum, if not a full response.
Contrary to my virtual friends, to my real life, flesh and blood friends, I seem to be invisible. I resigned from my book club earlier this week, to make room for a new neighbor, who now lives in Costa Rica full time while I will be gone for the next five book club meetings. In my email to my bookish buddies, I explained just that. My feelings that it’s unfair for me to clutter up the roster, while she’s hoping to participate and to forge new connections in an unfamiliar country. In the same note, I officially tendered my resignation from the book club. Nobody responded. Not a single woman out of nineteen fellow club members felt the need to say something. Anything. Only three weeks earlier we had lunch together, a special occasion, laughing and talking like humans do – entirely without the aid of electronic devices. This silence hurt, no question.
What’s next? First of all, I shall be even more cautious in regard to generalizations. I shall attempt to be less needy and never to expect or, heaven forbid, take for granted, a response or reaction. It is regrettable that none of the women indicated to me, why they didn’t want to communicate with me, which robbed me of an opportunity to improve myself. Without feedback, it’s very difficult to evolve into a better human being – great excuse there! Oops, doing it again, assuming there was intent while it may just have been utter disinterest or, could it be, they were all busy with their facebook and twitter accounts ….?