Learning About Friendship – Part 2

So I learned what a friend isn’t. At the end of the day, that’s not so important. I also learned (or at least was reminded of) what a friend is. That’s more important. Again, Facebook, for all its inherent faults, helped me along.

Last week, I saw someone I knew from 15 years ago had finally given in and join Facebook. Now I wouldn’t say I’d been best buds with this particular person, but we were well acquainted. We were in the same church, so not surprisingly at one time we saw each other on at least a weekly basis. Though not a lawyer, he had, in his professional capacity and as a friend, referred clients to me in past. I saw that he was FB friends with at least five other friends of mine, so I threw my usual caution and lack of self-confidence to the wind and sent along a friend request. Over the next few days I saw that he added lots of friends.

That’s when it was clear that even though I hadn’t been officially ignored, I wasn’t going to be one of them. Then there’s that little twinge of embarrassment, a bit like when you greet somebody in the street and they look at you and blank you. That has happened to you, right? And then the twinge becomes a cringe, while you remind yourself that it isn’t the the same as putting out your hand to shake someone else’s just to have them keep theirs firmly in their pocket. I withdrew my friend request, as if that gave it some modicum of dignity.

Now this was one those things where you don’t see it coming, but on the other hand it isn’t a total surprise. It happened some time back with another friend. I’d known them a bit longer. Closer to 20 years. Even used to go over to their house every week for food, fellowship and Bible study. We use to hang out with a lot of the same people from church. Though they did end the once-a-week thing rather abruptly, as far as I knew we were still friends. So there they were on Facebook and already FB friends with the same bunch of people, so I thought this was a no-brainer. I had bet they’d be glad to know how I was doing and I really wanted to catch up with them. This time I didn’t have the chance to withdraw. They deleted my request without a lot of pause. It’s times like these when I wish Facebook had the programmed savvy to keep from continually popping up an alert telling me that I should add them because we have so many friends in common.

So what does this have to do with real friendship? Even if you love me, you are probably ready for me to get to the point.

The point is that unlike with these and a few other individuals,  I have taken the opportunity to offend a lot of people. Usually not intentionally, but nonetheless I am often an idiot. I have made some really bad decisions that have affected the lives of some of my friends.  (I’m glad I have some friends upon whom I haven’t placed any baggage. I’m glad I have some Facebook friends that I didn’t know real well and have gotten to know a bit better. But back to the point of my story…)

There are people who would have good reasons to walk away and not have anything to do with me. They are my friends on Facebook and that’s good, because it is a convenient way to communicate and share thoughts and ideas, keep up with what is happening in their lives, whether big events or daily miscellany. And it’s just one way they remind me that I still matter to them. They are also people that I can pick up the phone and call. They probably know that I would be happy to take their call any time, day or night. Well, probably worried to take it at some times of the night, but more than willing. They can disagree with me on political or theological positions (and I provide lots of opportunity to do that). They can put up with my lack of social skills due to being a bit Asperger or that other kind of person that starts with the same first syllable.

So I suppose who I don’t have as friends just helps me to appreciate who I do have as friends. And that’s a good thing.

A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

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The Few, the Brave, the Friends

I’ve been looking for friends on Facebook. Facebook doesn’t like this, so they’ve shut down my search function for an indeterminate period of time. They warned me as soon as I did my first search that I was gonna get blocked for too much searching. Then shortly thereafter they held good to their word.When you’ve had as few friends as I have, searching for them is no easy thing. I looked for or invited all the ones in my current email account and sent invites to a few in a quite old account – ones that I had reason to believe still have the same address. It’s the ones in the middle – the ones in my Outlook contacts – that I can’t access because they are on an external drive since my other computer crashed.

When I see these people on Facebook with 400 friends, I have to wonder where they got them. I realise that part of the problem is that most of the people Facebooking are much younger – seems they are all in the class of ’10 or ’11 at some high school or maybe college. So a lot of people in my past simply haven’t gotten into the social networking thing. But then who am I to talk? I only started a little over a month ago.

I realise that even if all my friends past and present suddenly got Facebook accounts, I still wouldn’t have 400 friends. I’ve never been a social butterfly nor a particularly popular person to have around. I tend to only be shy in the making of friends. Otherwise, I have been known to impose myself on others with an almost Asperger-like disregard for the non-verbal feedback. The difference is that I can read the signals that say, “I honestly couldn’t care less” or “Please go away” – I just have trouble graciously extricating myself.

So I’m thankful for the forebearing friends I do have.  I just wish more of them were on Facebook.