“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17
Facebook allows us to connect with all sorts of people–our relatives, closest friends, acquaintances, co-workers, among others. Among them, how many we can call a friend and how many we can call an acquaintance? Friend and acquaintance are words carrying two different connotations.
An acquaintance is someone who one knows casually, not intimately. You see and know him or her from within a specific setting, such as work, school, on the street, etc. You say “hello” and “goodbye” whenever you encounter that person, but a friendship is undeveloped, or non-existent. A friend, in contrast, is one whom you know intimately and have developed a strong and intimate relationship. You know each other well enough and established trust to self-disclose personal information.
I have sixty Facebook friends, but how many of them can I label a true, genuine friend? Few, if not, none. I have nothing against Facebook itself–it’s the notion we connect with an array of people about whom we know little AND we carry little to no interaction with them in real life. How can a relationship develop if both persons don’t interact face-to-face? How can one gain closure when the Internet is the sole forum to carry conversations? (read Never Will I Leave Or Fail You.) I interact with my on-line friends infrequently, and they don’t seem to want (or have little time) to talk to me. Why stay connected with them if they give me little to no feedback, or when possible, speak to me face-to-face?
The notion a friendship can blossom strictly on-line disagrees with me. Carrying an on-line only relationship with someone and expecting to feel intimate with them (especially with boyfriend-girlfriend and married relationship) is tantamount to pressing lips against one another and expecting to feel that warm, tender feeling. It’s not the same! What are you going to do: kiss the computer screen? I think not! On-line meetings prohibit touching in any form. As I stated in my “Never Will I Leave You or Fail You” blog post, it’s fine to have an on-line only relationship with someone when both people are distant in geography (for instance, one person lives in Virginia; the other, New York), but when both people are capable of meeting face-to-face… why not?!
I can’t say I speak to my sixty Facebook friends daily–that would be a lie. I can’t say I know them well enough. I can’t say I feel intimate or close with them. I can’t say I’ve developed a solid, trusting friendship with them–with some I have. Regardless of the nature of my relationship with them, trust, reliability, and comfort must be present for a friendship (at least, a casual relationship) to flourish. If you feel uncomfortable in that person’s presence, a friendship is non-existent.
Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable? Proverbs 20:6
I can say I associate myself with people from my Facebook circle, but I can’t say they are loyal or reliable because I have not established a deep connection with them and I know little about them. Coupled with this, I see none of them after graduating from CNU. It’s not that they are unreliable, dishonest people, it’s they are living in different cities within Virginia and I don’t see them anymore. The above visual with the second sentence underneath the main one, “Distance and time can’t break them apart” suggests that neither distance nor time can separate best friends. Thus, regardless if two best friends are living in different cities, countries, or nations, they will reserve time to communicate with each other. Trust is not sole marker of a friendship, but the value you place on that person. To reinforce my point: chatting with someone on-line via Skype, Snapchat, Facebook, or FaceTime, is unequal to speaking to them face-to-face, especially when both people are available to meet somewhere.
A man might have many friends, but none would help him. Another man has only one friend, but that friend is closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
Your true friends appear when adversity strikes because those loyal to you will stay with you during that difficult time–no matter what. They help you when danger occurs to you or when you need help. One person may have sixty friends (as I have on Facebook), but none of them may help him or her when help is needed, as another person may have only one friend, but he or she stays with that person through difficult times, regardless of the situation. That’s true friendship!