This past weekend was my mother’s memorial service. A wonderfully tearful time of reflection mixed with giant breaths of gratitude for the number of extended family and longtime friends of her’s who came to say ‘she was a great lady; she was a great friend. We will miss her.’
It was naturally also a time for me to get caught up with a few folks that I’ve known since my childhood – old neighbors, longtime friends from the church my family and I attended during my growing up years.
And then I had a conversation with a good friend – one of those longtime friends – that stopped me in my tracks. I have always felt a good connection with my friend. We grew up around the corner from each other, attended the same church as kids, went to the same high school, I was an attendant in her wedding, we share longtime mutual friends. She is an amazing vocalist and she sang at my mom’s service. Certainly, we have lived in different cities for quite some time, but we still know the ‘goings on’ of one another’s lives.
And then she said, “The last time I actually saw you in person was at your wedding.” More than 15 years ago. What? No. That can’t be.
Oh, it be.
You see, we have stayed connected via Facebook, texting, Christmas cards, email. But we haven’t truly sat down face to face or really even had a long talk on the phone in over 15 years. We haven’t had that nice, long, get caught-up conversation. The phrase that shot out my mouth at that moment was, “Facebook sure can make a liar out of us, making us feel that we’re more connected to each other than we actually are.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blasting Facebook. I love Facebook – it’s fun. It’s like getting your friend’s annual Christmas card, except it little snackable bites throughout the year, rather than one long letter in December. It is a great tool that allows us to peek in on one another’s lives, stay current on big and little life events, and share pictures and highlights about our families.
But if we’re honest, it’s not a conversation. While Facebook is fun, I need to be mindful to not let it become a substitute for the real thing, for real friendship. I need to not let it lull me into thinking that just because I peek in on postings and pictures that I really know what’s going on on the inside with my friends. That takes time. Long, good, honest conversation and good quantities of time.
Neither my friend nor I in any way find fault with the other for how long it’s been since we’ve had that ‘sit down.’ Life gets busy for all of us: we move to different cities, our kids are at different places which makes different demands on our time, our work paradigms fluctuate creating different shifts in our schedules. And friendship – in the modern age – always take intention. It just does.
Our conversation was simply a wake-up moment for me to examine how many friends do I ‘assume’ I’m current with, when in reality I’m letting Facebook do that job for me? I think I’ll do an inventory of my Facebook connections. Perhaps the coming months could be about simply picking up the phone and talking to a couple of those longtime friends that I don’t see very often anymore, but still value greatly.
Intention about good relationship with our friends is a good discipline to strive for. It’s the same discipline that might encourage us as we continue to find ways to become better neighbors.
Facebook is fun. But I won’t let it make a liar of out me.