Virtual Friends

I was lucky enough to see 4 of my very best friends that I haven’t seen in a long time this past weekend at a gymnastics meet.  It just so happened that their kids were competing at different sporting events in the same location that we were in. What are the odds of that?  Anyway, we didn’t get to talk very long, because we each had to watch our kids, but it was just enough that I was able to recharge myself. I honestly didn’t realize how much I missed them until I saw them.  Being in a new place is always tough, and I haven’t made many real friends here yet. My husband says that it usually takes me about a year or two before I find a good set of friends each time we move. I’m thinking it could take longer than normal here since I am not teaching.  I have written about my tribe of friends before and how each group or individual has impacted my life. Some of them come and go and we loose touch, but there are those few that I keep in touch with virtually or by phone and see every now and then, and I know they will always be there for me.  I have managed to add to my tribe in each location we have lived. Typically, my friends have always come from teaching.  Now, I spend much of my day on my computer at home alone with our dog and my afternoons and evenings running carpools to practices.  It has been hard to connect with people when I don’t ever see anyone except my family.  I have a few people that I have met through my kids’ sports that I think could become part of my tribe, but we are no where near that stage yet. I guess I didn’t really realize how much I missed actual face-to-face interaction with my friends until I saw some of them the other day.  We chat with each other all the time through Facebook messenger or text, but it just isn’t the same as face-to-face interaction. It’s just not. This is something that I am struggling with in this phase of my life.  The older you get, the harder it is to make really good friends.  I have been so lucky in the past to have had such amazing friends and people that came into my life.  I still have them, but it’s not the same as being there in the same place with them and seeing them all the time.  Now all of my friends are essentially virtual friends.  It’s weird to think that, but it really is true.  Other than my family, I interact with everyone through social media or text.  I guess that is part of the world that we live in now, and I am grateful that I do have that means to connect with them and keep in touch. It’s just weird. 

I consider myself an introvert and I am happy to be by myself and left alone most of the time. I would rather text you than talk on the phone with you. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it’s true.  However, I think no matter how introverted you are, you need real human interaction away from a device with true friends. You need it for your own sanity and wellbeing, and you just really need human contact outside of you family. I fear that our kids will not develop those real human relationships that are so important because they are glued to their devices 24/7. I can probably count on two hands the number of times that my kids have had a conversation with a friend or peer that was actually talking on the phone.  They only communicate through a device with typing and pictures. Oh and they don’t even use real words.  It’s all acronyms and Emojis. It’s insane! They even do it at school.  My high schooler’s teachers encourage them to bring their phones and computers to class, and they do most of their work and interaction with their teachers and partners for projects all online.  My own kids communicate with me through text from the same room! I worry about what the world will be like when our kids are adults with their own kids. I worry that we are doing wrong by our kids by letting them have devices all the time.  What do you do, though? How do you find the balance when EVERYONE communicates that way? It’s kind of scary.  It’s almost like we are creating robots who don’t know how to interact with real humans. It’s something that I am craving right now, but that they don’t even think about. I do love that my kids are so involved in sports because all of the hours at the gym are hours that they are off of a device and are forced to interact with others. At least they are getting human interaction somewhere. I’m just not sure it is enough.  While I miss human interaction with my friends and struggle with just communicating virtually, my kids don’t. They have never really had that kind of relationship with many others.  Their relationships have always been developed virtually. While it is tough for me, it’s all they know.  It’s all that most kids really know.  My daughter had great friends from her previous gym. Does she keep in touch with any of them now? Nope! Other than watching their Instagram stories and sending them random pictures to keep up their Snap Chat streaks, she doesn’t interact with any of them at all now. It’s sad.  I don’t know how to fix it in this society, though.

All throughout my childhood, I had one very best friend.  We did everything together. We were always at each others houses and we even went on vacations and to camps together in the summer.  Neither of my kids have ever had a friend like that. They hardly ever get invited for sleepovers and they rarely ask to have someone come to the house. Part of that is from moving, another part is their crazy practice schedules, but the biggest part of it is that they just don’t interact with people like that.  They don’t make those deep, long lasting connections with their peers. They only have superficial virtual friendships. It really makes me sad.  I think they are missing out on so much. 

I once read something that said that virtual friends are like imaginary friends. That’s almost true. It’s sometimes like you are talking to yourself and you don’t really know that there is someone that cares about what you are saying on the other end or if they will even respond. Some would even say that a virtual friend is better than the real thing, but I would have to disagree with that.  I want to the real thing. I want the real human interaction. I am craving it. I want that for my kids.  I am thankful that I actually get to see my virtual friends from time to time. I sure do wish it were more often, but I will take whatever I can get.  I really hope that we can find a balance, especially for our kids. We need to unite as moms and take the devices away and force real interactions. We have to be in this together, though, or it will never work. We have to take a stand together. Moms for Real, Meaningful Connections (MRMC)! Let’s do it!


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