What's a real friend look/sound like?
I started to post the definition of friend here as a foundation, then decided against it.
In my gut, I know what a friend is.
I think you do too.
A friend is someone you can call at 3 A.M. and say, "I'm broken down at mile marker #888 on I-465 and I need help. Can you come and get me?"
Your friend may be irritated, but you know they'll show up.
And they know that if the shoe were on the other foot, they could depend on you, too.
There's a point here, and I'm gonna get to it......bear with me.
Sara Jean and I have lived in this little town for about 30 years, plus or minus.
When we decided to live together 26 years ago, we met our neighbors "Stan and Suzette".
Both are Sara Jean's age.
These two made Mr. and Mrs. Greybeard laugh.
We'd frequently socialize.......they'd come over for dinner and to play cards afterwards.
After an evening with them, our faces would hurt because we weren't accustomed to that much smiling in so short a time.
We loved them like family.....they played important roles in our wedding.
Sara Jean was a second mother to their daughter, 6 years old when we first met them.......
when the daughter reached adolescence and had "female troubles", she came to Sara Jean for help rather than discuss it with her Mother.
When Stan was faced with the prospect of making a decision to change his retirement investment plan, they came to me with their entire investment portfolio, trusting me to guide them in an area where they were unsure of themselves.
(They considered, then acted on my advice.)
You can see why I thought we were CLOSE friends.
They got a computer.
The next thing we knew, they were talking about the "friends" they had made online.
I was amazed.......they would come home, have their dinner, get on the computer and go to a chat room every night to visit with their "friends" from two States away!
Our card playing nights fell by the wayside almost instantly.
Then Stan and Suzette bought a second computer and got a second telephone line so they both could visit the chat room simultaneously!
We were hurt and dumbfounded.
These people........folks we truly considered friends, were more excited about chatting online than visiting with long-term neighbors that helped raise their daughter.
We finally gave up on the relationship.
Don't get me wrong here...... I love my laptop.
With it, I am better able to stay in touch with my family and friends.
I'll even admit to having a few "virtual" friends......but I emphasize the "Virtual" there. I am profoundly aware of the difference between virtual and real.
I think you can get addicted to these damned things.
Check that.......I KNOW you can get addicted to them.
Lately, I'm finding I spend more time than I would like sitting in front of this computer screen. Part of that is my love for the blogs........ once I found I could no longer trust the New York Times to print the facts, I started getting almost all my news via the computer and Blogs.
I started "Pitchpull" a little over a year ago.
I love where it has brought me....... I've had contact via email with fellow Bloggers and some readers, and that has been wonderful.
But are these people friends?
They certainly could BECOME friends......
but they will have to prove themselves over time......
a LONG time!
A "virtual" friend suggested I should open a "MySpace" account.
The reasoning was that I would then have access to MySpace profiles and photos. It's been educational, to say the least, (and oh my, the personal information many people make available there!)
One gal I checked out last week had "12,886 friends"!
An amazingly fortunate soul......right?
I think "MySpace" is more than just a little weird.
Are we all spending too much time in front of a computer screen?
Is it an escape?
Is surfing the net and doing the chat room thing a way of avoiding the work required to cultivate and grow a relationship with real people?
Stan and Suzette spent so much time chatting with "virtual" friends, they lost their relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Greybeard!
I'm concerned with what I perceive.......that it's happening more and more!
So here is my question:
At what point does spending time on the computer become abnormal?
Do you foresee long-term social effects/problems because of this behavior, and if so, what kind of problems?