I would not have been able to imagine a few years ago that I would have hundreds of “friends” that I don’t really know. Social media has changed and connected the world in unimaginable ways. But the same basics of friendship are the same whether you’re in real life or in the online world.
I’ve had lots of sharing between friends IRL and online this week. Two stories I’ve recently written have involved real-life friendships that go back decades and I’ve shared those stories with my virtual friends. My story of reinvention was my way of celebrating a dear friendship as it moves into a new chapter. I hold this friendship and our story sacred and it was important for me to tell it. I’m grateful it has been life affirming for those who read it.
I wrote an open letter to another old friend this week. He is my congressman in Washington DC and we differ politically. I’ve known him for years and believe him to be a good man. I held that memory of the boy I’ve known since we were barely teens when I wrote the letter. I’ve stayed away from writing anything political because we all know that the conversation can get ugly fast and end friendships. I am not friends with people IRL or online who spew vitriol.
Not all agreed my position in my open letter, but the conversation stayed respectful and civil. Friends should be OK when they disagree with each other. We should know that differing opinions could be expressed, if spoken kindly. Friends don’t have to always agree with each other, but they do have to respect each other. I’m grateful that I have friends who have different opinions. How boring the world would be if we were all alike.
I have been part of a wonderful group of midlife women bloggers for most of this year. I call myself a writer these days because of the encouragement I’ve found in this online group. I traveled to Chicago for the BlogHer conference this summer because of the strong connection I felt to these fabulous women. I learned that odds were if you connected with someone online, a friendship IRL is easily formed. This week the three creators of that online group publically split.
We all have known a couple that looks like they have a rock-solid relationship, one admired or even envied. What a shock it is when this couple splits up. This splitting of this business partnership felt like that divorce.
I am saddened by this business split and fortunately I don’t have to take sides. Different people have different truths. Relationships shift and change over time. Friendships come and go, because we grow and evolve differently. I’m grateful for the old and the new friendships in my life. I’m even grateful for those I’m no longer friends with because I’ve learned something from everyone.
The timeless Golden Rule still applies IRL and in social media world, “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.“ Here’s my virtual toast to you all, “To my friends, be kind to each other.” Now I’ll have a glass of wine IRL.
My friend and co writer on middleSage just wrote a great post about this too. It seems especially appropriate, as you said, after the events of those last week. The technology we use allows us to live in a much smaller world doesn’t it.
Yes, it is a much smaller world. And the timeless rules of living together in a civil society remain true.
I agree! I wish more people adhered to the Golden Rule.
Walker, it’s really that simple isn’t it.
It has been a very hard week. Hopefully a new day will dawn, and we’ll all move on now.
Yes Chloe, we will all move forward. Today’s challenges turn into what makes us grow and propels us all forward. It will all make sense in hindsight.
You wrote it so well – different people have different truths, and relationships shift and change over time. I did not make a ‘choice’ either – except to keep this as business – related and to remain with both groups, because frankly, the ‘groups’ are a vehicle to offer us exposure for our writing and new places to reach out.
I think if we remember that these networks have the word ‘work’ in them, it might defuse some of the emotional stress that comes from the personal involvements.
And I look forward to meeting you IRL one day Connie!
Pam, it’s hard to remember that this is a business decision. Because we have come to GenFab to share our lives, a genuine bond has formed. I know we wish everyone the best. It is ironic that the last GenFab bloghop was on reinvention. I KNOW we will meet in IRL soon!
Love this, Connie. And, yes, we need to remember the golden rule in our online lives, as well. Unfortunately, some seem to think that because they’re not actually commenting to someone directly, they can say whatever they’d like. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. xo
The night before I published my open letter to my congressman, I didn’t sleep because of my concern about hateful responses. I believe because I kept my letter civil, the responses were thoughtful and polite. The extended GenFab group has by and large also been respectful. We all wish everyone well.
I’m also a big fan of the Golden Rule. This is lovely, thank you. I also alluded to similar situation in my post today.
Carol, I loved your post and we are indeed feeling the same vibe this week.
What a lovely reminder and so relevant, Connie.
Thanks Corinne. My grandmother’s name was Corinne and I’ve never met another one with that beautiful name. I appreciate your comment.
Great reminder Connie. Partnerships, as in relationships, are a fragile thing. You perfectly captured my thoughts with this paragraph:
“We all have known a couple that looks like they have a rock-solid relationship, one admired or even envied. What a shock it is when this couple splits up. This splitting of this business partnership felt like that divorce.”
I, too, am both shocked, and saddened.
Thanks for sharing.
Bonnie, I’ve had to remind myself this week that while it feels like a divorce, it is just business. I am grateful that I do not have to take sides. All I have to do is to be kind.
Great post Connie! In keeping with the culture those thre three partners starterd in GenFab, it feels like they’ve tried to stay civil and kind as the “kids” figure out what’s going on. But things have to change to grow- especially with all the three partners have to offer.
Thanks Virginia. I had written a paragraph about us and how we met and roomed together at BlogHer because of the trust we felt from the GenFab group. When I put on my editor hat, I felt that paragraph wandered too far away from the point I wanted to make. But, I will forever be grateful to GenFab or bringing our friendship together IRL!!
I love this Connie! Both types of friends are wonderful, but online friends have helped me through international adoption, my Day Job, Cancer, and now Midlife. The online friends are more concentrated in the topics we are interested in at the time. I’ve had the good fortune to to have real life meetups with some of the online relationships that I treasure. My IRL friends date back for decades and will always be there. I find business and personal rifts among friends are sad and stressful whether they are online or in person, but the pain fades. Time Heals!
Thanks Valerie for commenting. Friendships come in many ways these days and answer different needs. It is sad and stressful when a rift appears. It is sometimes hard to remember to not only be kind to others but to ourself as well.
It really does come down to the Golden Rule. I remind myself of that often, though I don’t always live up to it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Laurel, the Golden Rule is something we can aspire to. When we fail, it’s our wake up call to remember it.
Yes. Although I can’t believe I’m quoting Jewel, of all people, I don’t think there’s anything truer than her line, “In the end, only kindness matters.” So happy to have met you online and become friends IRL.
HA, well…Jewel got it right, didn’t she! I too am so glad we’ve become friends.
being in the midst of a divorce that no one saw coming … I can say with certainty that those on the outside may never know what really happened … just as some of us deeply entrenched have no clue either ….
I’ve been divorced 8 years and I’m finally living the life I hoped for. The next year will be really hard. You will grow in ways you can’t imagine. Take good care of yourself. You will get through it.
Thank you, Connie, for expressing what I have been feeling since I heard about the split of a wonderful, inspirational group that has helped me also. Thanks for voicing something many of us are grappling with and also for reminding us of the Golden Rule in any relationship. Let kindness be our motto for life.
Pat, It’s been a hard week for our dynamic group of fabulous women. Thanks for commenting.
I, too, hope I don’t have choose sides. Love your quote about each of us having our own truths :)! Thanks for putting this into words for many of us! (think you want “imagine” in the first sentence as opposed to “image” :/)
Thanks for the typo heads up! And it’s a business decision, I’m grateful to be a part of both businesses.