Facebook friend or real friend?

By Tracy Doren

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Is the world really so small? I was browsing my Facebook wall not long ago and began to wonder about all the posts I read on a daily basis:

Is everyone really having more fun than I am?

I usually check Facebook at home when I’m finishing up my day after unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry or just catching up with the latest on Netflix.

When I check my wall, it seems practically everyone I know is in Hawaii or San Diego, horseback riding in the pines or having a drink at the coolest new bar in Downtown Chandler.

I can get lost in that world for way longer than I should, and I begin to wonder how I filled my nights before friending 300 or so people and being privvy to their every move.

Years ago, my now 15-year-old daughter made one of those “from the mouths of babes” comments while looking over her older sister’s shoulder in the early days of Facebook, accusing her with, “You don’t have 614 friends.”

“Oh yes I do—it says so right here on the screen,” followed by the golden nugget: “But can you have ice cream with all of them? Cuz if you can’t eat ice cream with them, they aren’t really your friends.”

The whole family has used that as a litmus test for true friendship ever since—sometimes a glass of wine substituted for the ice cream—but the bottom line is, how many of your social media friends really are your friends?

Do you go online and check out status updates only to be left feeling empty? Asking yourself  why am I not in Paris, with the love of my life, enjoying  the view of the Eiffel Tower?

If they are your real friends, you know the road to Paris was paved with a whole lot of potholes, and they have paid their dues to get there and  you think “good for them,” they’re finally on that long and deserved vacation…but if you are just an acquaintance or “Facebook Friend,” it may seem like all they ever do is take fabulous vacations while you slave away at your mundane life.

So if we begin to view social media as simply a highlight reel of life, then it isn’t so hard to take—the adventures, the perfect children, the new car—because everyone deserves highlights.

If you really know your friends, you’re happy  for the big victories but you also know that their kids are messy sometimes, their car breaks down and they fold laundry too, but you celebrate the highlights either in person or online.

If you can’t have ice cream with them, then it may look like life is always a celebration. So is the world really small or do we just feel some strange sense of security catching a glimpse of people’s lives that maybe we shouldn’t be seeing?

Tracy Doren is publisher of Wrangler News. She has two school-age children at home, one in college, another who teaches special education classes in the Flagstaff school district.

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