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.