A couple weeks ago a friend was having a work anniversary. I discovered this only because of LinkedIn, one of the social media platforms I intermittently weave through during the week, clicking “Likes” and occasionally sending messages. It’s not a social media platform I engage with much; Instagram and Facebook are more my style. But this work anniversary was unique. It prompted me to congratulate Joanne Allen Eskildsen for 42 years at All of Northern Colorado.
While that job description might seem odd to some, knowing Joanne as I do, I can tell you it is not. A realtor by profession, she has a tendency to get to know you in the most interesting of ways. And while I don’t know her because of her job as a realtor, I still felt capable of congratulating Joanne for her 42 years at All of Northern Colorado because of a variety of interactions.
I added a new label, deciding to also congratulate her for being All-Encompassing, one of those people you meet who are unforgettable, who add a note of charm whenever they touch your life.
We met at a fundraiser, where I noticed her quirky blue glasses, and then we began commenting on each other’s Facebook posts, having become friends there. Somehow, Joanne discovered my blog, Feeding the Famished, where she left interesting thoughts. She purchased (and read) my novels.
Our friendship exists on many levels. We have spirited, bantering conversations on Facebook, often evolving into rambling philosophical discussions. Jokes are peppered throughout. But we see each other rarely, maybe only twice a year.
Is a friendship of a Mark Zuckerberg sort any less important? I don’t think so.
Over the years, we’ve continued our virtual connection. Joanne told me she knows me a lot better because of these invisible threads of communication. “There would be a huge dimension missing without the latest and greatest technologies!” she said.
It brings to mind a group of friends from college. From ages 19 until 22, the relationship was hot and heavy. Belonging to Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity, there were about 12 of us bonded at the hip — and in fact, there are at least three marriages I can count resulting from those days spent fundraising, partying and yeah — there was a bit of studying, too.
After that came grad school for a few of us and we all drifted away into jobs, home ownership and raising kids. Once in a while there would be a resurgence of interest, and then it faded away. Some time after, somebody discovered Facebook and APO regrouped, as collegial as ever in its virtuality.
Until one day all of our kids became less hands-on. There was time again to hang out at a party without worrying about rushing home to relieve the babysitter, who surely had better things to do on a Saturday night. And when we could reinvest ourselves into these friendships, it was as if nothing had changed. The conversations carried on uninterrupted, as if we had only just been hanging out in a dorm room, “Walling” — what we called when a group of us sat in complete darkness and listened to Pink Floyd’s The Wall from beginning to end.
Even so, I don’t think the resurgence would have ever happened had it not been for social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and even Words With Friends, the scrabble game played on smart phones in the comfort of your home, your opponent a friend, yet also existing as a figment of your imagination. As disconnected as this all is, there is a link. And humans are a bit like schools of fish, wired to follow others on a life course because communication is inextricably interwoven with survival.
Is that what LinkedIn really means? That we are plugged in to the lives of colleagues, relatives and friends no differently than if we were plugged into a phone line on those Sunday evening calls home to check in and connect. It’s a chain of life connections, a link of people with avatar faces. A link to others who also, truly, exist. And from that existence, bonds of friendship may be created.
How do friends connect? Is there only one way to define a friendship?
Friendship and how you feel about a person changes with the methods by which you are able to stay connected. With today’s technology, the opportunities continue to expand. If we hit reset on defining how we maintain these relationships, if social media serves to tighten the bonds and helps make real time connections all that more meaningful, where is the harm in it?
Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, illuminating the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished, https://www.facebook.com/EmilyKemme, or on Twitter @EmFeedsYou . Life inspired. Vodka tempered.
Interested in reading Emily’s new award-winning novel, Drinking the Knock Water: A New Age Pilgrimage? Find it on Amazon and in Indie bookstores.
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