Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Introvert's Dilemma: Facebook Friends vs Real Friends

Friends.  How do you make them? Do they just happen, or does it take effort?

Do you ever feel you've forgotten how to make friends?  

In this age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and numerous other social media sites, we're constantly connected.  We find out what people say they're thinking, what they want us to know they're doing, what current events they have opinions on. And we share the same.  

It's perfect for the introvert.  Controlled interaction.  Lots of information that lets us feel involved, but with the ability to turn it off at any time.  Someone irritates us? Block their feed.  Someone posts non-stop?  Change their status to"only important posts" so we see if they take a trip or have a baby, but we don't have to see what they ate for dinner. 

There's no hanging out.  No smalltalk. No beating up on your kids or dripping spaghetti sauce on your tablecloth. 

But can you really make friends this way?  Can you make friends without it? 

Having just moved to a place where I knew no one, I find myself thinking a lot about friendships.  At what point do they move from acquaintance to friend?  I'm Facebook "friends" with one person from this area.  The rest I only interact with face to face.  And I find that challenging.  Because, as an introvert, I hate small talk.  I don't understand hanging out.  I don't shop in a pack, can no longer spend hours on the phone, and don't enjoy parties.  

I've spent time evaluating my ability to develop friendships, and there's really only one time I made friends.  In school, I had lots of acquaintances but really only one friend that lasted.  But it was at my first college that I truly made friends.  Why?  The intensity of campus life.  Tiny campus, we all took the same classes, so we all had the same exams and papers.  Common stressors.  We were in a jello mold; we ate together, lived together, went to church together.  We had common things to talk about, and common struggles, and we opened up to one another and helped each other along.  It was beautiful, and ugly.  It was community.

In my other colleges, life was much different. They were bigger, and I'd lost the illusion of being in one place for four years.  So I put no effort in. At two colleges, I put in anti-effort; I was there for a degree, I wanted top grades, and I didn't want relationships to get in the way.  I'd been burned, I'd been told friendships were part of why I was failing, so I eliminated them. 

So what now? I've lived in three locations, and haven't truly built community anywhere.  I'd just started when we left our home of three years.  And now, in our fourth home, I find myself at a loss as to how to even start.  There's no safe place.  Little common ground.  And there's the added dynamic of children; my kids get shoved around.  So in order to keep them from being traumatized, I find myself spending "social time" ensuring my kids aren't getting walked on, literally and figuratively. 

How do you make friends when you're broke and only have two chairs, one of which holds a booster seat?  How do you develop relationships when most of what you know of someone is what's in their grocery cart is nothing like what's in yours?  Can you become friends despite differences in discipline, in beliefs, in practices?  

It's so much easier on Facebook and birth boards than in real life...

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie,

    I found myself starting completely over. Everything I was, everyone I knew, gone in a literal day. And as God worked to heal me, heal my heart and make me into who He wanted me to be, I prayed. For just one. And I learned to be the friend I wanted. To give to others what I needed. And a year later, the "family" He has placed me in is God given. It's beautiful. It's complicated. But it's real. I'll be praying for you sweet friend. I know all to well the pain of being alone, but I also know the joy of what He can bring out of it.