I’m preaching a revival in my hometown this week; actually, at the church where I grew up. On our way into town Saturday night we stopped by WalMart to pick up a few things, and I saw a girl I recognized standing in the toothpaste aisle. As I walked by, I said, “Hey- how’s it going?” Very friendly, very upbeat. She responded with a sheepish, “Uh, hi?” I kept walking.
My honest assessment was that since she was there with her boyfriend, she didn’t want to seem overly friendly. (I also had some flashback “cool girl/nerdy guy” complex stuff come up, but I’ll save that for another day…) It was only as I was walking out of the store that I realized the reason for her reaction- we’re “Facebook friends”, but we’ve never been “real friends.”
She added me as a Facebook friend sometime last year. We went to the same high school, but she was a year or two behind me. Her brother was in my grade, but I wasn’t friends with him either. I think she and I had some mutual friends through a club we were in or something, but I can’t recall ever having a conversation with her beyond a courtesy, “Hey.”
I think now, more than ever, we have to nurture and pay attention to our real friendships. I think we have to be intentional about spending time with people, eating meals together, going on trips together, doing chores together. The upside of Facebook and Twitter and blogs can also be the downside- it keeps you in the loop about everybody, but it also builds a false sense of intimacy. You can know every detail about me- my job, my family, my hobbies, my schedule, my prayer requests, my plans, my favorite music and movies- but never have a conversation with me. That can’t be healthy.
If spending time reading this blog is contributing to your lack of real, authentic friendships, don’t read it anymore. If your Facebook to face-to-face ratio is way out of whack, shut it down for a while. Behind every profile there’s an actual person, and if you’re really friends with them, I’m sure they’d love to get coffee.
Leave a comment if you wish. And if you’re really offended by this post, you can just “unfriend” me.