I remember that when I graduated from high school there was no such thing as Facebook. Shocking I know. But about six months later we did have classmates.com. (I don't even know if it still exists). That website was great for me. You know why- I moved to the other end of the state after graduation. All the friends I had from elementary school up were still in Northern GA and I was in Southern GA. It was horrible. Yes, I had friends here because I spent every summer here growing up but it wasn't the same. These were not friendships built around late night bus rides home from ballgames, shared school experiences, and the devastating heartbreaks of high school relationships.
For a while emails and phone calls kept some of us in touch. And then there were visits for the first couple of years. But as all things do with distance- the visits just kind of fizzled out followed by the phone calls and emails. But then Myspace pops up. John opened an account first and then I quickly followed. A whole new frontier! We had pictures and updates and you could chat with people. My page was mostly filled with high school friends and a few locals, I was in love. Then I found Facebook. You know what, I didn't like it at first. Myspace would let you design a page, blog there, and so much more. But slowly Facebook won me over. More people were on there. It had an easier format. And I started a blog so I didn't need that blogging component at Myspace. Gradually my Myspace page fizzled like those long ago emails, phone calls, and visits. Now we had Facebook. We knew what was going on with everyone everyday. Reunions were planned through it and so much more. You could easily maintain friendships from half a country away. I was in love! And I still am.
But there is not the seeing someone face to face with Facebook. Or hugging them when they need it. There isn't the real life part of it. However, you know when people are going to the beach. And for me that means they are coming less than an hour from me so I can go meet them for lunch on the way home or the way to the beach. And that's exactly what happened this past weekend.
I got to see my maid of honor for the first time in 6 years! I was so excited. Her family was coming home from the beach and I had to do some school shopping so we decided to meet for lunch. It was so much fun! I loved it. And only when I got home and my husband asked to see pictures did I realize we didn't take any. We forgot. But we got to see each other. We got to talk to each other's children. We had real life. We went beyond Facebook for the day.
We need that. We need to look beyond the constraints of this wonderful way of keeping in touch and keep it real. We need to cultivate old and new friendships with face to face meetings even if they are every six years. It builds us as friends and as individuals. Because as much as I love my online friends in places like California and Canada because they are a lifeline through dreams and heartache- they aren't as deep as the friends you see in person. The ones who come to your house for supper or you go to birthday parties for their kids. They are online. And until you really meet that person, you don't know everything.
Don't lose the online friends- mine are a God sent blessing. But remember the importance of the face to face friends too. Don't let all your local friendships fall to Facebook. Keep them real. You need that interaction. You need the blessing of the (in)real life friends. Take friendships beyond Facebook.