On Sunday I watched a father and son eat lunch. The father was on his cell phone for most of their meal, while the son ate in silence. I found this odd because usually I see younger people on their cells while the older people are sitting there in silence, but more than finding it odd I found it sad and representative of our technologically-obsessed culture. So attached are we to our gadgets that portability is a must. We must be available at all times, to all people. We must have wireless internet access and internet and music on our phones, even TVs in our cars. We must update our Twitter and our Facebook daily, if not hourly, so everyone knows what we’re doing or thinking. Of course, the irony of all of this is that while we’re seemingly so connected to each other, we couldn’t be more isolated. We neglect real relationships for cyber ones, preferring a text or email over a phone call, a phone call instead of face-to-face interaction. It’s just easier that way. Right?
I have found myself trapped in some of the scenarios I’ve just described, and it’s only lately that I’ve realized that I’ve allowed myself to hide behind my online presence. I’m more comfortable baring my soul on a blog post or in a facebook post than I am in real life. The online me is the selective version of me, and so the online me is safe, protected. And I’ve allowed myself to believe that I’m cultivating and maintaining friendships because I know what my friends are all up to thanks to the wonders of social networking, and yet how often have I actually called them up to find out? In person communication isn’t always possible, but I know I can do better than exchanging facebook messages.
The truth is, I don’t know how to make friends anymore. It was so easy in college and mostly easy in grad school because I was constantly thrown together with people in the same stage of life as I. I lived with these people, went to classes with them, shared meals with them, goofed off with them, and so it was natural that relationships would develop. Now, however, I am an adult, and I am not “forced” into interacting with others on a daily basis, and I am floundering. I wasn’t bothered by my lack of new friendships when I first got married because I was content to spend every hour of the day with my husband, and I still treasure our relationship and his presence, but my girlie soul longs for female companionship, too. I don’t even have any close friends at the church I’ve been a member of for a year and a half. How sad is that? There are women at church that I have shared passing conversations with, but I have never managed to muster enough courage to get to know them better by inviting any of them out to lunch or to the park or even to Target. (And now I sound like a guy who’s trying to get up enough courage to ask a girl out. Awesome.) I suppose deep down I am afraid of being rejected, and so I don’t say anything. I’m good at that, it seems.
Part of me (a rather large part) didn’t want to write this post because I am aware of how completely lame I am, but I am putting it out there in the hopes that I am not alone in feeling this way. (Plus, it’s late at night and it’s possible my judgment is impaired.) Does anyone else struggle with cultivating friendships? I welcome any and all suggestions/thoughts.