I want to talk a little bit about virtual friendships and making friends via social networks. Yep, those ones you make on Facebook and other social networking sites. Now some people have questioned the use of the word ‘friend’. They say, ‘How can someone you’ve never met be your ‘friend’, someone you only know over the ether waves and even then, you have no idea who they really are. Man, woman, pervert, paedophile, priest, business man, serial killer….true, you have no idea who they really are. A lot of them you have no idea of their gender, and the number of nom de plumes abound. There are super heroes, book characters, film-stars and even cartoon characters.
The word friend is defined in the dictionary as ‘a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.’ It’s a very broad and sweeping definition and in my mind, it certainly applies to those people with whom we strike up a relationship over the social airwaves. I talk to people every day who I consider friends. People who share their stories and their lives with me, their ups and downs, their successes and failures, their daily strife and their dreams and aspirations. I have people I know in ‘real life’ who are not as good as friends as these others. I have people who know me personally and face to face yet have never bought or read any of my books and aren’t really interested in what I do because it’s out of their comfort zone.
And then I have people who private message me, sending me personal voice messages of support and whenever I’m down, seem to pick up on it and let me know they are thinking of me. Scott Burkett, honey, you know who you are.
Personally, I have made some of the best friends ever via Twitter and Facebook. People who are now face to face friends and where the relationship has developed to such an extent that it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Take my friend Geoffrey Wakeling for example. We met one night about eighteen months ago on Twitter. Geoff was off to visit his boyfriend, Saad in Toronto and I saw something in one of his tweets about being a writer. I tweeted him telling him to have a good time and enjoy his time there, just randomly. He replied, we started chatting, I found out he lived not too far away from me and we planned a get together, a cup of coffee at Westfield Mall in Stratford. Of course, my family were a bit worried, asking me how I could meet a random stranger, a man, all by myself and of course, they had a right to be worried. Geoff could have been anyone despite the fact he probably wasn’t after my body because he was gay. However, my husband travelled with me to Westfield and then after meeting Geoff, and seeing he wasn’t that scary, he left us alone to natter for a few hours. We got on like a house on fire. Since then we’ve met a few times, spoken on Facebook, texted and this whole relationship has culminated in me being a guest at his wedding to Saad next week. Geoff has read my books, been a beta reader for me and is a great source of support. He’s epic (my new buzz word) This was taken at the shopping mall we met at. Sorry it’s a bit fuzzy :)
Me and Geoff
I then have a great buddy in Baltimore, called Shanella McBeth. She’s a bundle of fire, energy and sass and although I’ve never met her, I feel like I’ve known her forever. We met when I was doing research into pole dancing for my book Waiting for Rain. She introduced herself to me and then introduced me to Steven Retchless – yummy. I found out she was a writer too, we started chatting and now Shanella is the trusted co-admin of the Male Pole dance facebook group. We plan to meet up sooner or later too. She’s read my books, loved my writing. And I know when I’m down, as does she, we can talk to one another, commiserate, swear like troopers and share pornographic pics to cheer each each other up. No I won’t post any here, it’s more than my life’s worth. :(
I have wonderful fellow authors who give me advice on areas they are more expert in and others, professionals in their field, who do the same and give up their time to make a meaningful contribution to something I’ve written. I have other best -selling authors who give me their time and knowledge and expertise and counsel to try and make me a better and more marketable writer despite the fact they have their own books to promote and their own businesses and lives to live. She knows who she is.
So the next time someone face to face says’ You and your stupid Facebook and Twitter friends, why don’t you get a proper life’, just look them in the eye, and say ‘Have you read my books, the ones I slave over? Have you helped me out recently when I was feeling down, sent me a funny message to cheer me up? Have you heard my tales of woe and actually listened instead of telling me all yours?”
If the answer is No, then don’t feel guilty for having this world of virtual friendships. Whatever keeps you going and happy, it’s worth it if it means something to you.