Wednesday, June 10, 2009

But we're friends!

In this age of creating and re-creating personal connections through social networking sites like Facebook, it's hard to imagine how so many of our "friends" have slipped through the cracks in our lives.

When I first jumped on the Facebook bandwagon, I spent hours looking through old friends' walls, pictures and posts. How could I have lost touch with so many of these interesting, funny and successful people? And even more baffling, how the heck do I even KNOW so many people? All my high school and college friends and acquaintances are scattered throughout the country, even the world. There were times in my life when many of these long-lost friends were as indispensible to my well being as food and water. How could I have gone so long without any contact whatsoever?

As with any novelty, the allure of Facebook began to wane. Those inital days of getting friend request after friend request had me in a frenzy not unlike the first days at a new school, but eventually the requests dwindled. The same friends posted the same things with relative frequency, and the number of people I wanted to "friend" or be "friended" by grew stagnant. I began to grow--GASP--bored with my new little pet. And Facebook was starting to make me feel inadequate. Why didn't I go to an Ivy League school? Why do I have crazy pictures of my friends at girls' night out on my wall? Why don't I live in Guatemala? Why don't I have my own internet business and five kids and my Ph.D. and a book on the bestseller list? What must all my "friends" think of my life as a teacher, living in Buffalo, being a stay-at-home mom?

But then I started to see the frayed edges on the designer dress that is Facebook. "Friends" of mine posted opinions diametrically opposed to my political views. This was especially true around inauguration time. Another "friend" or two posted opinions about children and motherhood which dissed my choice of lifestyle. Yet another "friend" posted conservative vitriol about a recent tragedy involving a murdered doctor. How in the world are these people my "friends?!"

I guess it all boils down to this: everyone comes and goes into and out of our lives for reasons we may or may not know. The choices we make on the paths of our lives--good or bad--deliver us to where we sit today. Personally, I have made my peace with my life, and I realize I have a pretty damn good one.

No, I don't get the invite to the Harvard Alum summer barbeque, nor do I have Peace Corps experience or wild nights out or any of that jazz a lot of my "friends" do. But I do take comfort in knowing all these people are out there in the world, somewhere, and at some point--now, or someday down the road--we can remember why we're connected. We may not always agree, we might not go to the same parties or stand on the same side of the picket line or vote for the same candidates, but there's a thread of humanness that connects us more deeply than our beliefs and opinions. And I guess that's the point of it all.