You’ve heard it. “Just because you have 2,000 friends on facebook doesn’t mean you have any real friends.”
On one hand it’s a true statement. We can get caught up in the numbers.
I myself have, both as a blogger and entrepreneur. I think that is to be somewhat to be expected. So much of what I do on social media is about promoting business. That wicked self-promotion.
On the other hand, some of my richest friendships have blossomed through the internet. I by no means am actual friends with all 1,265 of my facebook “friends.” I have about 100 or so that I interact with regularly on the feed. Even those are not all really good friends. They are folks I banter back and forth with. We share some recipes, some laughs, maybe some memories now and then from the good old days.
Over the last couple of years, Facebook groups have become smaller, more private versions of the social media king. I am a member of many small groups that suit my interests. Homeschool groups, Bible Journaling groups, Blogging Groups, and more, but only one is my true tribe.
My Middle Sisters. The women I write with weekly are some of my closest friends. No, I have not met them all in person, but they are still my sisters. The writers of Middle Places have created for themselves a place where we can really become intimate with each other. Face to face friendship is always the best case scenario, but what the internet has done for us, is create a forum in which we can foster a close friendship that would have otherwise been nearly impossible outside of old fashioned letter writing. Instead of waiting days and days to get responses to the things we want to share and confide about, we can respond almost as if we were indeed together.
Within our group we post questions, worries, heartaches, challenges, and “atta girls”. We discuss things we are afraid to explore on our public walls. Sometimes we even leave long videos for each other. We talk shop and share our professional successes. It’s a safe place.
We now even have a traveling award we share with each other when one sister goes above and beyond to support her other sisters. Something tangible (and hilarious) we can use for a laugh and encouragement for each other.
Facebook isn’t enough for us either. We have meet ups and lake days when we can arrange them, though some distances are just to far to cross. Of the 13, we are divided among the east and the west, and one even across the pond. I’m one of the lucky sisters. I live in a city where I can connect with 3 other sisters anytime I like. It’s harder for the other 9 to do the same.
I have other friends, but these are some of my closest. Social media is often the best, and only way for us to connect.
I haven’t met all my sisters, but….I know them. And they know me. And they are real people on the other side of the screen. They don’t and can’t replace the people and family I am around every day, but in so many ways the fact that most of our interaction has happened online has not stopped them from being my Philia sisters. For all the bad that social media conjures up, this sisterhood transcends all of that and has become a very good thing.
So, I encourage you. If you are a social media user, find your tribe. It may just be out there where you didn’t expect it. It doesn’t have to keep you from connecting in person. Sometimes it is good to take a break from the voices on your screen. But sometimes, it’s also the place where you can find real encouragement in a place you didn’t expect to find any.