As crazy as I am about live tweeting the Oscars, posting humorous Facebook’s statuses and uploading pictures of my chai tea latte on Instagram, I’m beginning to struggle with a very important part of my life – virtual relationships.
Recently I’ve been feeling that on Facebook it’s not enough just to like someone’s post anymore. You’ve got to like at least three of their witty comments or poke them (if that’s even is still a thing) or at the very least, wish your friends a happy birthday…all 600 of them! Some days I’ve spent over half my day online; partly due to work and partly due to responding to some overdue messages and notifications. Setting Facebook aside, I’ll open up Twitter and then Instagram and then LinkedIn – before I know it’s 7:00 p.m. and I’ve done nothing but work to develop my online presence and secure my viral relationships. My brain is fried and I have had no real human contact in the last 18 hours. What happened to human relationships?
I used to be obsessed with giving gifts or cards to my closest friends and family for birthdays. During the holidays, I would spend hours out and about finding the “perfect” gift. Now, I simply compile a photo collage and stick it on their Facebook walls with some statement like, “Happy Birthday to this crazy lady!” or “Oh the wonderful times I’ve had with ! Happy Holidays!” The idea of spending the time to find gifts is exhausting and my hand cramps at the thought of putting effort into writing cards.
That statement you just read – me complaining about cramping hands and wasting time on gifts – that statement is not the woman I was a year ago. And frankly, that scares me.
Somewhere along the way, I decided that giving a friend my time would be enough. I thought that the gifts, the cards, messages on Facebook and emails while I was away, were only benefits. But I really do wonder now in this virtual world, how can we actually give our friends what they need? Do they gifts now or is it good enough just to shoot them an email here and there? Are messages on WhatsApp and Messanger replacing letters because we can’t wait for snail mail?
Facebook has provided us with more information than I would have ever wished for ten years ago. Ten years ago, I remembered just one of my friend’s birthdays – February 20, 1993. I remembered her home landline number. Her freaky clown light that was in her sister’s bedroom, which later became my best friends room. I remember us collecting all the puzzle pieces for a picture on a Nintendo 64 game called Banjo. Ten years ago, I didn’t have so many people I needed to keep track of in my life. No one seemed to mind that I just had one friend. Our relationship was that simple.
As the years have moved on, I’ve made another best friend. We don’t expect much from each other and honestly, I truly appreciate and respect our relationship. I’ve got a friend who doesn’t care if I post a birthday collage on her Facebook wall since most likely at some point I’m going to celebrate with her. She doesn’t care if we don’t talk virtually every day because at the end of the day she’ll probably get a lengthy voicemail from me rambling about absolutely nothing. It’s that simple.
That’s a relationship I treasure. Nothing is expected, so every moment we share together is special in our relationship.
I’m making an effort in writing cards again. I’m making an effort in planning ahead for gifts because I do know and understand how much it means to others. When I make an effort for you, it’s not meaningless. It’s a lot more than that; actually, it has always been that way. I work hard to keep my friends close and to those I’ve lost due to lack of attention online, I’m sorry I cannot only live on virtually my whole life.
This blog post is dedicated to Spatula. I’m sorry I’ve missed some special moments in your life, including your birthday this year. I wish you the best and hope to see you in person soon. xx