The two elderly women in the corner of the coffee shop are engrossed in each other’s stories unaware of onlookers. They are complete. Their friendship is bound neither by age nor place. The two of them, oblivious of the Facebook definition of friendship. The two in the photo seem to be share a depth and regularity of time spent in each other’s company. Perhaps that one hour in the presence of someone who knows the messy bits of our lives is what it takes for us to feel heard, seen, included in a bond that fills us up. In those moments we can say with heartfelt gratitude: This is my friend.
I blog therefore I use social media. But not all of it. The number of followers of QP & Eye belies the true connections I have with my followers. The real number of followers are a close knit group of people who get me. Our blogging relationship has evolved through commenting on each other’s posts, sharing and empathising with life-journalled entries and the encouragement flows with ease. I feel connected to these men and women: as if I were physically journeying alongside them.
I have a Facebook account which I rarely use but I am an avid user of Messenger. It is where I connect privately with those nearest and dearest to me. Of course nothing compares to face-to-face connection but with time lapses across the world it eases feelings of separation. Rather than having so many Facebook friends, I am with others on Messenger and learning to be a friend.
Rather than having clouded the importance of being connected, social media has altered the how of connection. It has become a matter of having connections rather than being connected. Call me old fashioned … but connection happens when we show up and listen deeply with the heart because that is where friendships are built: within the hearts of each other.
So the hubris of Facebook and how many friends one has can taunt us as we review our glossy acquaintance list. The truth is lost in the shiny posts and gorgeous photos of what we’re eating, whom we’re with and where we are doing these exciting things. The truth is that I am no more connected to you because I see a photo of you doing whatever. I am only truly connected when I show up and allow myself to be truly seen in all the messiness of life. Equally I am seen and connected in the moments of shared jubilation both of others and my own.
So the two women in the photo reminds me that in being a friend I will show up and be seen. I will listen and hear deeply. Even on my introverted scale (INFP) connection adds a quality to my journey that is irreplaceable.