Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

Friends

on February 29, 2012

Yesterday I noticed that a former friend had deleted me from Facebook. Since I only noticed this because I was trying to find him on my friends list so that I could downgrade him to an acquaintance it is hardly a loss. After consulting with another friend about when he deleted me, we established that it was probably over two weeks ago.

The discussion quickly shifted away from the former friend to my current friends. Who has been getting along, who has found new sources of conflict, who has come closer, who has drifted away. It has only been a few weeks since I was last in Melbourne, but I was surprised by how much has happened in the interim.

For over half my life, the bulk of my relationships have included a significant online component. Email, chat, video calls, online games, and a range of other tools have kept me in touch. The line between my local friends and my interstate and international ones has been blurred for so long that I often forget it is there. This provides a timelessness to most of my relationships, and it means that I can frequently pick up where we left off after a gap of months or even years.

This group of friends is different. My relationship with them has been augmented by technology, but it has been based in the here and now. If we do not see each other for a week, there is a sense of distance. The dynamic of the group shifts so quickly that daily conversation is often required to keep up.

Now that I am in Canberra, I am aware that I am losing currency with the group. I no longer spend most nights with them. I am not having those daily conversations with multiple people. My real time knowledge is out of date in a way that I had not expected so quickly.

A few years ago, I would have become distressed at the idea that I am losing my friends. By moving I possibly will lose a few. But if they will not remain my friend due to a few kilometres and a few movie nights, are they truly my friends to begin with, or just people I hang out with? I hope that my meaningful relationships will be just that – filled with meaning. For me that meaning comes from mental intimacy, emotional honesty, and a willingness to be available to each other when it is needed most. It will be interesting to see how many of my Melbourne relationships survive this transition.


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