Warning: I don’t often get personal on this blog, but I’m about to get very, very personal.
People say that the internet has brought us closer. That the world is a smaller place. That because of the internet, people no longer feel alone.
People are liars. The internet has stolen my friends.
I have friends – the internet says so. I have half a dozen social media pages that tell me how many followers I have, how many friends, likes, shares, plusses… how many people I have in my circles. According to the internet, there are thousands of people who cared enough to press a button and make a connection. But there isn’t anyone to sit with me at my crumb-covered breakfast table to have coffee after sending the kids off to school?
I have some very close internet friendships. Crafters that I’ve met online, and later in person. Old friendships that have been maintained through wi-fi. These cyber pals have heard me pour my heart out through my keyboard as I worried about my pregnancies, my kids, moving, jobs, life… and all of them live more than an hour’s drive away. Too far for them to come over to give me a hug, or look me in the eye to see if I’m really doing okay. Too far for them to give me a high five …and too far for me to hold their hand when they go through loss. Too far for me to bring them a casserole or fold their towels. Too far for me to hold the baby while they take the first shower in over three days. Too far.
The internet has made me lazy. I’m able to make very simple connections with people too far away to touch. My friends are only a keyboard away, but we’re a world apart.
If I want to celebrate a victory, I can post it online, I can text, I can message, I can even call… but not a single one would be able to split the calories in a victory cupcake without adding the cost of postage. On my birthday I’ll get dozens of messages on my Facebook wall, as my social media profile reminds people it is my special day. But not a single one of those people will get a slice of birthday cake (though they may see an Instagrammed picture of my slice).
The internet has allowed me to be fake. It doesn’t matter how my day is going, I can still share a picture of my smiling kids, a flower in the yard, or what I’m having for breakfast. I can invite the world into my home without having to mop the floors, fold the laundry, or unpack the suitcases from our last trip. I can selectively share the perfect things, without exposing my internet friends to the baggage.
The internet has stolen my friends, and I have let it. It is up to me to fix it. It is my responsibility to step away from the keyboard, to forge real relationships with people who are able to walk by my side.
This doesn’t mean I’m breaking up with the internet, or the people in it. It is a wake-up call for me – time to find a better balance in the real world.
What about you – have you reached out and touched anyone lately?