“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Friendship is a powerful thing, and in the age of social media it occasionally looks like everyone has disconnected from the real world. I can tell you from experience, though, that virtual world has made me feel connected to the human experience in a way that I never thought possible.
When I was a kid moving every few years, I always thought to myself that I wished so and so from one state would meet so and so from my new state.
With social media – that is now possible. As an adult, I am still a connector. I want so and so to meet this or that person. I think they would make fabulous friends or be supportive of each other due to a common issue.
In my life I have an incredible group of virtual friends – some I have met in person – some I have not.
With my job, I travel the country taking photos, and on these trips I get to meet long time Facebook friends and reconnect with those I only see now online.
These virtual friends have seen me through, among other things, a viral photo, the crazy growth of my business, my husband’s death, a new relationship, a move, and the passing of our dogs.
We have so much in common – and I am always amazed that we really truly are similar and compatible when we meet in person.
I have a love-hate relationship with social media in some ways – but the bonds of friendship and the power of shared experiences when it comes to healing from tragedy and trauma cannot be underestimated.
It is sometimes the ultimate “not alone” tool. (This is, of course, not always the case. We all look at our screens and say “I must be the only one feeling mediocre” – but that it is another post. )
These are 3 reasons virtual friendships rock:
1) Shared interests, loves, hopes, or troubles.
We can connect to those in the virtual world in a way we might not be able to our physical spaces. First of all it is sometimes easier to write how you feel than it is to say how we feel. And secondly, in some cases there are few who are experiencing what you are going through.
To put it bluntly – there aren’t a ton of people who saw their spouse die or had to ID their husband in the ER. There are a bunch of us online (including two who I know in the local community)- and we like to refer to ourselves as the “Guild of Sarcastic Widows”. When one of us is having a down day, we can discuss it quite candidly with the others.
2) You don’t need money to hang out.
Economic factors can sometimes limit our ability to go out, or when we do, we feel pressured to spend a certain amount. With virtual friendships, that is not the case. Those barriers are lifted, and you can connect with people on a level that you might not be otherwise able to.
3) Friendship and support exist regardless of time, space, and place.
If you are going through a physical move or other extreme change – these people are still there. Support is right there regardless of place.
Whether it’s a job move, a location change, or a relationship change – these people are still there.
Sometimes that constant is what you need to keep sane. When my husband passed – I was taken care of by many amazing people – but in the dark of night when I was ultimately alone, I was able to reach out to those I knew had gone through the same thing. It saved me.
Because of social media, longtime friendships have grown deeper, and new ones have been formed due to shared experiences of tragedies and triumphs. I am richer because of virtual friendships.
Like many people, I have had so many crazy things happen in my life that I don’t know where I would be without these events. Whether it’s a world famous photo, moving constantly, traveling around the world, having a near death experience during a miscarriage, or losing my husband unexpectedly, I am at my best in chaos. Change is what I am good at!
I am here to show you that the best can come from the worst. Life is short. Do good things. Pursue your dreams. You won't regret it.