Facebook and Friendship?

William Deresiewicz’s article in The Chronicle says:

The Facebook phenomenon, so sudden and forceful a distortion of social space, needs little elaboration. Having been relegated to our screens, are our friendships now anything more than a form of distraction? When they’ve shrunk to the size of a wall post, do they retain any content? If we have 768 “friends,” in what sense do we have any? Facebook isn’t the whole of contemporary friendship, but it sure looks a lot like its future. Yet Facebook—and MySpace, and Twitter, and whatever we’re stampeding for next—are just the latest stages of a long attenuation. They’ve accelerated the fragmentation of consciousness, but they didn’t initiate it.

I have 180 friends on facebook. A few are people I knew a little, into whose orbit I moved quickly in and out. But they are people who were important in my life, or had the potential to be.

However, I will admit that where I live now I have no friends. I have a few acquaintances, one or two of whom are lunch buddies occasionally. But there is no one here that I am close friends with. But I do have close friends: Amy, Angie, Bev, Kim, and Paula. They are all over the country and I call and talk to them. I cycle through times we talk. Kim is in a PhD program and I talk to her on Mondays at 3 when we are both driving home from our commutes. Amy is a busy mother of four and I don’t call her much, since I feel like I would be taking away from her time with her family. But I do go to see her every few months. Angie I talk to once every two weeks and go see once a year. Paula and Bev are in North Carolina, but I drove out to see them two summers ago. And I am friends with Bev on facebook, so we keep up with each other.

So, I do have friends, but not where I am. And I have lived her for ten years. Did I ever have friends here? A few, who drifted in and away. But no one solid. It’s hard. Will I end my life with no friends?

I do have one friend on the other side of town, twenty years my senior, with whom I have lunch and chat. Thank God for Linda.

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