F is for Facebook Friends

…and blog buddies. And Twitterquaintances. All those people who some would say aren’t real friends at all, because how can you claim you’re friends with someone you’ve never met?

Maybe you can’t, hypothetical scoffer. But here’s the thing: I haven’t met most of my friends.

I’m not so good at making friends in real life. Things get awkward when I try to talk to people. I don’t share a lot of interests or common experiences with people in my town. Even if I did, some people don’t want to be friends when they know you’ll be moving away in a few years. Mostly, though, it’s my fault. I’m shy. I’m also introverted, which is by no means the same thing. This means that not only am I afraid of talking to people, I also don’t usually feel lonely when I don’t have anyone around to invite over for tea. People exhaust me, and I’m happy being alone.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have friends.

I’m much less shy about chatting with people online, and conversation is much easier for me when I can proof-read (I tend to muddle my thoughts when I speak out loud). I have friends who live in my computer– at least, that’s my understanding. We have common interests, like vintage toys and customizing My Little Ponies, or writing. The friendships start with that, but often they grow deeper. I have one friend I talk to almost every day. We make each other laugh, and I know where to find her if I need to blow off steam. She in turn knows that I’m always there for her if she’s feeling down or needs to vent. She knows my deep, dark secrets. I know at least a few of hers.

Our lives are very different, but it turns out that this isn’t a problem. Distance and differences are small things when you’ve found someone who cares.

I wish I could share some of our conversations with you all, but you’d never respect me again.

If we’d met in person, I’m sure I never would have talked to her. But because we shared one interest, because one of us (probably her) reached out to the other and said, “Hey, I’m new, too– you want to swap customs?”, I have a friend. A good friend.Β  Maybe a best friend.

True, none of my blog friends, my NaNoWriMo friends, or the people I banter with on Twitter were available to help me move crap out of my shed when we found out it was getting torn down. None of them can tell me who to call about getting my kids’ vaccinations up to date around here. I don’t have anyone I can call if I need a babysitter. I can’t take supper over for them when there’s a death in their family, or help out with their kids’ birthday parties.

But these days, “real life” isn’t just what happens close by. The e-mails I get from people who are worried when they think I sound depressed in a blog post, the honesty I can expect from the beta readers I’ve met here, and the joy I share with Facebook friends when something huge and wonderful happens in their lives… you’d better believe those are real.

So thank you to all of you who have become my friends.

But seriously, all of you are going to need to get your butts over here and help me move stuff back into the shed if they ever get around to re-building it.

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About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

20 responses to “F is for Facebook Friends

  • Charles Yallowitz

    People who say on-line friends aren’t real friends overlook a few important things. Through a computer, you can be friends with people of other countries and cultures. I’ve always enjoyed that part of on-line connections.

  • wendyalowden

    “S” certainly has become very important in your life, and I thank her for that!!! You get your shyness and your “introvertedness” (?!) from your mother. As you know, your dad could sit down and have a conversation with a cumquat he hasn’t met before. I apologize, and yet, I kind of like you like you are πŸ˜‰ The majority of minister’s are introverts….I think it’s because we need a pulpit to speak from to feel like we have something valuable to say….who knows. I just know that if I am doing pastoral care, or with a group of church people in my work day, or preaching, I can be extroverted to them, even though I may be dying to go home and be alone…but ask me to make a phone call to deal with the phone company, or change my address with someone, or take something back to the store, and I turn into a jellied salad…with fruit (yuck).

  • Emily Witt

    *squishes*

    I agree with everything you say. I have waaaay more online friends that ‘real life’ friends. And when I was traveling last year and met up with some of my online friends (including Kate Frost and Elaine Jeremiah), we got along awesomely.

  • madlaura

    And besides, you grew up and moved far, far away, and how would I be friends with you now. In the ‘old days’ people wrote letters to many and varied folks, some of whom were only known by a friendship with someone else, and were referred to as correspondents.

  • kebirch

    Wonderful post!!! I completely agree with you (this coming from another shy introvert). I feel pretty lucky to live at a time when my world of friends isn’t only limited by distance.

    • Kate Sparkes

      I feel like the Internet is the best thing that ever happened to me (after my family and my imagination, I guess). SO many friends! And I don’t have to clean my house for any of them. πŸ˜‰

  • Stepheny Houghtlin

    Firmly believe it is possible to be ‘friends’ though never meeting through shared interests and life circumstances. While blogging hopping during this year’s #challenge, I saw in a bio that she liked King Charles Spaniels, white chocolate and Colin Firth. I wrote back, ‘Me Too,’ we must be kissing cousins.

    • Kate Sparkes

      It’s fun to meet people that way! Kind of like kindergarten. “You like purple crayons? Me, too! Let’s be friends!”

      King Charles spaniels really are adorable. My in-laws have a Cavalier KC (not quite the same, I guess) and he looks like a little stuffed toy. πŸ™‚

  • Dave

    Well, here’s another shy introvert that has made friends in the digital world. Happy to be one of yours, Kate. Hope you’re feeling better …

  • L. Marie

    Any connection you make with someone is a good connection. I read a book that C. S. Lewis wrote in which he corresponded with a woman he’d never met in person. Nowadays we have email and social media in which to connect with others.
    Happy to know you, Kate!

  • Shannon Andrews

    I count you among my very bestest friends. Our conversations always lift me up and make my day better. I know I can always count on you for support and sound advice, and a great laugh (and for telling me when I’m acting like Kanye)!! I’m so thankful that our one shared interest brought us together and we discovered many more interests- and differences! I think we balance each other out quite well!

  • kathils

    Aww. ..I’m unaccountably all sorts of teary-eyed now. Most likely due to not having consumed my morning coffee yet. I’m working on it.

    I’ve made quite a few online friends. I even met some in person, and the great thing is there was never that awkward feeling between strangers. Because how can you be strangers when you chat several times a week with someone who shares your passions?

    Anyone who says online friends don’t exist just doesn’t have any. And that’s sad indeed.

    • Kate Sparkes

      I wish I could meet my online friends in person. Pony people get to go to the annual Pony Fair and share hotel rooms and have fun… writing friends meet up at conferences and what have you… I’m just here. (hence the posts trying to get people to come to NL on vacation. Sneaky, no?)

      Some day…

      • kathils

        We’re going back to Ireland next year or I so would come to visit you. The pics you’ve shared of the area are just gorgeous.

        Hmmm…wonder if I could convince the airline to divert on the way home? Is there an airport nearby?

        • Kate Sparkes

          A lot of international flights go by way of St John’s. That’s 3.5 hours from me, but I’d come see you if you ever made it to town. πŸ™‚

          I’m so jealous that you’re going to Ireland! That’s on my list. As is England, and Scotland, and New Zealand, and Italy, and…

  • cjswriting

    I love my Tweeps and people I have met through the blogiverse. I absolutely love connecting with new people through social networking. It
    It’s such a great way to open up our little worlds to the much larger world we live in now.

    Great post. Hello from a fellow A to Z challenger. Have a great month!

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