Talking to my friend on the phone this morning I was telling her tales of other friends that I know; Facebook friends. These people I met many years ago on a discussion website that I joined to make a little money. As I was extolling the stories of these people and their lives my friend said to me “But how do you know who they are?” I was stumped.
I mean how do I know that this person is who they say they are? They really could be like that Discover card commercial “I am Peggy” where a Russian man pretends to be “Peggy” the customer service agent. I was frustrated in trying to help my friend of thirty plus years understand that these people are basically just like her; good friends. Still; the thought that someone I’ve conversed with for years might be a letch sitting at his computer in his underwear; swearing to be a young woman I gossip with each day makes me a little taken aback. But that isn’t the case; I can read people better than that.
How do I tell her that Marianne is a brilliant political wildcat from New York with two beautiful kids; or that Dana is this fiery red head with an stunning journey of self discovery under belt? How do I tell her of my friend and soon to be student of Herbology, Julie, who has an insight into all of nature and an amazing smile? Or Matt; a man that can turn a piece of wood into a work of art?
I have had some wonderful experiences with these people and feel that if I ever get to Scotland; the land of my dreams; that Morag will welcome me with open arms. But how do I know for sure? How do I tell of Tammy’s journey through autism and Mikes journey through hell with meth? It’s frustrating. I guess all the people I’ve mentioned could be made up. They could be fictitious but I really have a hard time believing that after all these years of talking and laughing and sharing with them that they are not really who they say they are.
I will admit it has happened to me a couple of times. I can be hoodwinked as we all were with one person pulling the wool over a our collective eyes. She is no longer anyone’s friend that I know of in my group and I really can’t say I think of her much. Even though I did try to help her as well as others it still makes me sad. But that’s life in real life isn’t it?
And it can be dangerous to become the wrong type of friend to someone or them to you. I would never have a relationship with someone in a way that would ever put me or my loved ones in danger. I am careful with who I talk to and who I give information to. I am also not a person who posts too much about my personal information. This can be a dangerous thing.
I did have one incident that reminded me of that fact. I was commenting on my former friends posting of an incident that supposedly happened in a city where my kids live. I hadn’t heard anything from my kids about it so I contacted that person to verify. The next thing I know I was sent a message about a letter being circulated by that person hinting for her friends to attack me. She had over a thousand friends and I received many hateful remarks from a group of them before it settled down. That made a very important point to me. Be careful who you pick as friends and how you navigate the world of the internet. Pitfalls do exist.
Still I find this place a wonderful respite from the real world with the joys of looking at Akasha’s and Shelly’s jewelry or reading about Steve’s book to come out soon. These are real people to me and they are real people to the world. I cannot think of them otherwise.
As I wander through the Facebook pages looking at entries and laughing at Sconi bears latest humorous rants or smile at Tammy’s beautifully haunting poem I realize that these people really ARE my friends. They laugh when I laugh and they cry when I cry. I will never forget the time my dog had to be put down and I was really depressed. I got over a hundred comments back to me about “Rainbows Bridge” a beautiful story of where animals go when they die. That says more to me than all the flowers in the world could do.
I have had offers of help from friends when I’m broke to virtual pats on the back when I need shoring up.
And all my friends know I’m an herbalist; an animal lover and a person who loves living out in the country. One friend from Germany; Regina is especially close to me because of our shared religion and love of cats. My one eyed cat, Jackson, can thank her for helping me to make the decision to keep him in spite of his handicap. We laughingly call her “Aunt Regina” to each other!!
And I realized something today that I never thought of before. I get to go to all these places of these people’s lives each day when I visit. I can be in Scotland or England; Washington or Canada. My crazy friend Anne Marie; aka Sparks; is always a smile for me whenever I read her thoughtful words.
And that is the thing about friends. It doesn’t matter whether you have a cup of tea with them sitting across the table from you or whether you are “virtual” friends. They will always be there for you.