“Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they’re always there.” (Author unknown)
Social media has broken down many barriers regarding keeping in contact with others. The internet has made it possible to have friends all over the world – some may have been part of your childhood, some may be family living a distance away, friends who moved away, co-workers, and, yes, some you got to know online from sharing some common interests.
The idea of remote friendship is not a new concept. Perhaps you had a pen pal in your youth; someone you wrote to that you knew you’d probably never meet in person. Perhaps you wrote letters to service people via the USO. The advent of social media has just made the process faster and more direct.
Family connections via social media is one of the best ways to keep in contact with loved ones who live far away or, let’s face it, even in the same town. With busy schedules, work, and school activities, sometimes a quick visit to a social media site may be just the thing to let you catch up on what’s going on in the family. Planning reunions and coordinating visits can be so much easier and faster. Celebrate weddings or births, share first-time events, sorrows, joys, and just be there for each other. Social media can shrink the distance and revive family connections; that’s a good thing.
Perhaps your work is worldwide, and you have colleagues you may never meet in person. On-line conference calls can take you into their world easily. Social media lets you continue friendships beyond the workday environment. “I worked with someone in Asia, who became a friend. When she left the company, we friended each other on Facebook and have been able to continue that friendship for several years now,” Jean shared. “I would have missed seeing her kids grow and sending her birthday wishes. Work was the way we met, but Facebook allows us to continue our friendship.”
Cross-country friends are just a second away depending on which social media vehicle you use. “I have a friend that I’ve known for twenty plus years,” Katie shared. “We’ve never seen each other in person, but I consider her one of my best friends. We talk almost every morning before we head off to work. The fact that we live on different sides of the country has no impact on our friendship.”
Perhaps you’re part of a ‘remember when’ type of group or a group from your former elementary or high school. Nostalgia and long-ago friendships can be revived on social media. Learn about where school friends ended up in life. Did they achieve their dreams or go in a different direction? Seeing pictures of their families, their career choices, and how their lives turned out is just special and sometimes surprising. “Just from our high school Facebook page, I learned that we had four or five classmates who become ministers, one a career Naval officer, a county commissioner, an artist, interior director, and a fireman,” explained Cameron. Some may live far away, some may be closer than you think, or some may still be right in the old neighborhood. Going to a class reunion may not always be possible, but at least social media gives the option of keeping in touch.
Joining a group with common interests can create new friendships. Crafting, collectors, car enthusiasts, or gardening are just a few options. It’s an opportunity to share knowledge and perhaps expand your skills.
There are cautionary guidelines to be used with any social media vehicle. But, as a means of keeping in contact with people from our past, with friends who may have moved away, and with family members, social media is a resource that can put you in their virtual living room sharing a cup of coffee and just catching up. Isn’t that one of the best parts of friendships? No pressure – just show up, talk, laugh, share, and be part of each other’s lives.