Tag Archives: friendship

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.  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.


Snobbery*

“I’m a coffee snob. Starbucks tastes like crap, and if you drink it, I’m laughing at you.”

“You listen to One Direction? Gross.”

“I’m super kinky. If you’re vanilla, you must be a boring, lifeless person. Sorry.”

“You say you like My Little Pony, but you collect VINTAGE ones and have only seen season one of Friendship is Magic? Poser.”

“You’re not a gamer if you haven’t played x and y. Noob.”

“You’ve watched Game of Thrones, but not read the books? You know nothing.”

“Fantasy? Really? Why don’t you read a real book?”

You all still with me? I’m sure you could come up with more examples. Whether it’s fashion or food, comics or current events, pop culture or ponies, you meet them everywhere.

Snobs. People who judge and exclude those who know less than them, whose tastes are less sophisticated, who haven’t been members of the community for as long, or who don’t enjoy the same experiences. If you mention that you’ve never read that book, or say you like something they consider beneath them, you get the derisive snort and the eye-roll.

I grew up thinking that snobs were rich people who refused to eat Kraft Dinner. Maybe they are, but there are snobs everywhere, at every income level.

And I’m getting sick of it.

I get it, I do. I’m guilty of it myself, have been for years. Excluding other people makes us feel better about ourselves, doesn’t it? A club’s not exclusive if just anyone can join, and we all want to be a part of something special. And what’s worse than having an interest in something, investing time and money into that interest, and then having these effing noobs stinking the place up with their ignorance, calling themselves blank-keteers when they’re TOTALLY NOT EVEN?

Oh, and there are LEVELS of snobbery. There’s a guy who only likes coffee from his Keurig and cries if he can only get regular brewed, but then there’s ANOTHER guy who refuses to use any beans that aren’t fresh-ground, and someone else who thinks THAT GUY’S grinder is a waste of space… you can never win. Never.

“You have a CASUAL interest in music, and listen to Top 40 radio? You drink Tetley? How adorable. Gag. I’m off to listen to Stealth Gingerbread feat. Giraffes on a Trampoline while I sip this green tea I just had shipped in from… oh, you wouldn’t have heard of it. Or them.”

“You’re looking for an agent because you want a contract with a big publisher? Pfft. I’m with a small press, and you’re a sheep.”

“You supplemented with formula? Sorry, I’m a huge lactivist. I can’t spend time with someone who hates babies.”

“You call yourself a writer. You write stories, but you’re not consumed by them to the point where you would rather DIE than not write? *snort* Whatever, not-writer person.”

The internet is a fantastic tool that allows us to meet people we wouldn’t have otherwise, who share our interests and we can have fun with. There are open, supportive communities out there, and I’ve made some good friends through them. But it can also allow us to become so absorbed in these groups of people who think like us that we forget there are others who think differently, who don’t agree that our interests are the most fascinating things in the world, and who maybe don’t care if their coffee comes from a can. When we do remember these poor souls, we think that our group is better than them because OF COURSE IT IS.

I’m not against interests. I’m not against communities and groups. I hope they thrive and grow…

…and I hope that some day we’ll all grow up and stop being snobs about the things we love. That we’ll learn to be passionate and enthusiastic about them, and eager to share what we love without making outsiders feel small for not knowing anything about them.

“You liked Twilight? It wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. Say, if you’re into vampires, you should check out  ______. Her characters are amazing, and she really has an original approach when it comes to…”**

“You’ve never heard of Stealth Gingerbread? They’re pretty obscure… but they’re great, I think you might like them! Look up the song “Hire a Goat for That” on YouTube, let me know what you think.”

“Yeah, I love coffee. You know, injecting Maxwell House into your eyeballs will get you your caffeine fix, but you should try (insert brewing process here). The flavour is fantastic! No? Well, just putting it out there, if you’re ever interested.”

“Oh, I see you dunked that customized doll in a bowl of mod podge and re-haired her with steel wool. You know, when I need to seal paint, I’ve found that _____ is much less glommy. Let me know if you need a tutorial, I have some on Pinterest.”

Why chase people away from the things that we love when we have a fantastic opportunity to include people and share our passions? Why look down on people who like different things when it’s all a matter of taste and preference? Why make people feel stupid for knowing less than us when it’s so easy to share what we know?

A lot of us seem to think that knowing a lot about a specific pop culture THING (or health fad, or whatever) makes us SUPER SPESHUL. Newsflash: It doesn’t. It just means we have something interesting to share, and a reason to be friends with people who also love that thing. Great! But if we act like it makes us better than everyone else, that just makes us snobs. I’m starting to realize that that’s the least special thing I could possibly be. From now on, I’m going to try to use my interests to build people up, not to exclude them. And if they’re not interested? That’s fine. Maybe there’s something I can learn about from them.

And as for the snobs? You can all send your n0oOOo0bs and fake geeks and drinkers-of-instant and readers-of-whatever over here to sit with me. We’ll have a fantastic time, trying new things without you. Next time you turn up your nose at something we love or find amusing, we’re going to laugh it off and refuse to let you make us feel small.

Loser.***

So tell me: Have you ever judged someone for not appreciating something that’s important to you? I have. Have you ever felt excluded for being new or uninformed? I’ve experienced that, too. Most importantly, what amazing thing do you know about that you want to share with the world?

*No direct quotes were used in the writing of this post, and no specific people were referenced.

**Yes, this is going to be tough for some.

*** I’M KIDDING. Jeez…


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