A Thought for Today
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September 23, 2020
A Thought for Today
Friends

We all need friends. I spoke with my BFF this morning as I drove to the church. We didn’t really talk about much, nor do we need to have a deep conversation every time we speak. It is enough to know that we can talk with each other about anything and everything and that we will always support one another. I trust Theresa to disagree with me sometimes and challenge me when my thinking is off base. I also know that she will listen to me if I think there is something different that she needs to consider. I can listen to her advice because I trust her to care about me and to be kind in what she says.

We are able to have wonderful discussions not because we agree on everything, but because we have a relationship. That is what is missing in so many social media discussions. If we are chatting with relative strangers, deep love and respect are often missing. We don’t really have relationships that have developed over time with many of our Facebook friends. We are acquaintances rather than friends. I have 867 friends on Facebook today. I don’t notice if someone unfriends me or stops following me. I would know that if we were really friends. I have not met some of my friends other than through Facebook. I wish we used something other than “friends” for the people we choose to associate with on Facebook. Many of them are potential friends if we could actually spend time together, or devote more time to interacting with each other. That doesn’t describe friendship, but it does describe acquaintances.

Acquaintances are sort of like potential friends who are on probation. If they prove themselves to be kind, trustworthy, and loyal, then they may be accepted into the circle of friends. If they are mean, rude, and nasty, then they are not worth my keeping as acquaintances because they don’t have the potential of becoming a friend. Why is it so difficult to accept this as a general rule of thumb on Facebook? I have kept people as “friends” on Facebook who would never become my friends in person. They have not passed the acquaintance phase of the relationship. It’s like I can never give up hope that they will change and become the people I want them to be. That doesn’t seem fair to my less than savory acquaintances because it means that I cannot accept and befriend them for who they are.

Facebook creates a false reality where acquaintances serve as friends. I pour out my deepest thoughts and dreams for them every day, and my success is measured by how many people read or comment on my posts. Why does it matter how many people read what I write? It doesn’t matter. I write for myself to help me stay grounded. I write for my real friends to help them to think through some of the same things I am thinking about. I write for my acquaintances, wondering if any of them would like to get past the acquaintance stage of our relationship. I write, hoping that sometimes something I write will make a difference for someone else. It is already making a difference for me.