Fans or Friends

In the day and age of busy schedules and frantic pace, we seldom have time for intimate friendships beyond our immediate family. Even the buzz of actives within the home and the diverse tastes find us with little time for our precious loved ones. Thankfully we have mobile phones to help us connect during our daily commute to and from the office.

Whether talking on the phone, chatting with the person in the backseat as we drive, or dropping a quick email, we are separated from the once common experience of looking into each other’s eyes. We have lost the connection through the window of their soul. We are no longer in a place were our gaze can reveal their unspoken pain or their soft spoken cover up in hopes of not offending us because they desire something different than us.

This new form of isolation has given rise to a unique form of expression. Instead of sharing our thoughts and feelings during an intimate conversation, people now communicate more broadly through tweets, blogs and social networks. What was once private has become public and those participating no longer care to keep anything withheld.

New expectations have risen in the relationship building process. The younger generation who rarely had good communication demonstrated to them due to the broken home in which they were raised, now expect you to keep up with their Internet or electronic communications if you desire a relationship with them. Many of them just don’t have the time to be repetitive in sharing personally what they already shared publicly.

I was with a group of younger friends recently and asked one of them about their recent experience. The response was, “Didn’t you read my tweets or Facebook?” I shared that my schedule caused me to get behind in my reading. Her response was, “Oh, well, you can just read it when you get a chance to catch up.” She then turned to another friend and started a new topic.

People have no desire to talk about old news and social media drives information at a faster pace than what our social calendars allow. It is impossible to keep up. In my attempt to do so last weekend, I found that there were enough entries by my friends to fill two 400 page books. There was no way I could catch up in a couple of hours, let alone over the weekend that was already packed with adventure.

The opposite is also true. Trying to chat with someone that already read your blog can stop a conversation quickly. I raised a topic the other night that I had blogged about a few days earlier. It was a topic of interest to me and I was curious of my friend’s perspective. Unfortunately, his response was, “Yeah, I read your blog. That was really something.” Then he changed the topic. I felt ripped off because I didn’t gain his insight.

The burden of friendship has changed over the decades. Before I was born, neighbors met each other at the fence and chatted about all the issues of the day. They could argue or agree, but in both cases they walked away respecting the other’s opinion and came by the fence the next day. Today, we jot off an email or 140 character tweet and we expect others to keep up with our thoughts.

During the “good ole days” we carried the respectful burden of hearing out our friend’s opinion long enough for us to earn the right to state our view. Today, the burden isn’t that of patience, but of trying to keep up with the public announcements our friends release. It’s as if being a friend today has been redefined, as a person who is your friend’s number one fan in the world of social media.

The funny thing is that most of the people I count as close friends seldom read my blog. Oh, if there is an article that peaks their interest they will read it, but they certainly aren’t avid readers. Hmm, does that mean we shouldn’t be friends? Frankly, I desire intimate conversations with my friends, I don’t need them to be fans.

What kind of burden do your friends put on you? Do they expect you to keep up with their eNotices, or just want you to share in his or her great times and tough times?

Copyright © 2011 By CJ Powers
Photo © James Thew –