I know, I know. It’s wonderful to find like-minded people from all over the world. It’s encouraging to be in contact with people we can relate to and that we “get.” It’s so easy to keep in contact with old friends and even to find people that we knew years ago. It’s convenient to keep our families up-to-date on the happenings of our little family unit by posting pictures and status updates of the kiddos. But, sweet reader, it isn’t enough.
I’m not saying you should unlike all your Facebook “friends” like this brave lady did, though I think she has made a wonderful choice! I’m not saying that Facebook is wrong or evil or anything like that, though it certainly has the potential to be any of those things. I’m saying that we all need more.
We need the in-person, flesh-and-blood, real-life people to experience life with in a community. We need the eye contact, the hugs, the knowledge that these people see us as we are, without the artificiality of a Facebook status update, and they love us. We need to have people there with us who can experience life right alongside us.
Yes, we can post status updates, photos, emoticons and even videos on Facebook so people know about us… that doesn’t mean they know us. It creates a false sense of intimacy. We share thoughts and feelings with 600 of our closest friends and each person who sees it feels like they’ve connected with us. They haven’t. This isn’t real connection, no matter how honest we are. This isn’t real life, it’s Cliff’s Notes on our lives.
No, I’m not saying it’s wrong… just that we all need people we can see and touch and experience life with to really thrive. We need to be able to laugh and cry together. We need those real connections. Not sure where to start?
- Limit Screen Time: If our faces are glued to the phone, computer or any other screen, we’re missing the chance to make real connections with the people around us. Our time and effort shouldn’t all be spent on people who are across the country. What if each of us developed rich and beautiful friendships with the people near us? Not seeing any people around you?
- Find People: No, you probably can’t find people who think, feel and believe exactly the same things that you do, but that’s okay!! If everybody you interact with is just like you, how boring is that? Pick something you love and find a group of people to join.
- Go to a Bible study
- Take a class (art, cooking, etc.)
- Join a group (hiking, exercise, book club, etc.)
- Chat with neighbors (over the fence or host a neighborhood barbeque, etc.)
- Involve your kids in something and get to know the other mamas (play group, classes, etc.)
- Make an Effort: Don’t just assume you will instantly click, though you might. Make an effort to get to know the other person. If you wait around hoping for them to make the first move, you’ll probably be waiting a long time.
- Invite them to join you in an activity (shopping, taking the kiddos to the park, going to the zoo, etc.)
- Invite a bunch of ladies who don’t know each other to have a mom’s group at your house or a local church (keep it casual or make it be a Bible study)
- Join them in something they love, if you have an interest in that activity, too
- Make Time: Relationships take time. Time spent together talking, laughing, encouraging, crying, helping… If one or both of you can’t or won’t put in the time, the friendship will never get going or it will die. Sometimes that’s the best thing, but for the most part we need to work at finding ways to get together, even if it’s for something as mundane as grocery shopping.
- “Be There” For Them: One of the big differences between online friends and in person friends is that we can be there for each other. We can help each other in tangible ways. A hug, a meal, a shoulder to cry on, a ride when the car isn’t running, a babysitter in an emergency… when all our friends are far away, we miss out on helping each other in practical ways when there are real needs.
In person relationships take a lot more work, true. But they are worth every single little bit of it! No matter how wonderful those Facebook “friends” may be in real life, they aren’t actually in YOUR real life. Find a few people to include in your life right where you live and make the effort to develop real relationships with them. It will be such a blessing to you and them, both! 🙂