Excuse Me! Do I Know You?

IMG_1697 Sketch courtesy of Michelle Campbell

Have you ever had that experience where someone starts chatting to you as though they are your best friend and you really are not that sure where and when you met them? In fact, you’re not that sure you ever did meet them.

~~~

You listen politely for a while

Mind whirring behind your smile

Do I know you, friend or foe?

Can I trust you? I don’t know

You seem to know me very well

I’m getting old now, you can tell

My memory is failing,

My eyesight too

But if you know me that well

I’d surely know you too.

~~~

The definition of a friend is ‘A person known well to another and regarded with liking, affection and loyalty.’

With that in mind, I was giving some thought to our Facebook ‘Friends’, and those we think of as ‘friends’ in other social media circles. How well do we know them? Do we like them? Regard them with affection and loyalty? Now, that’s a hard one, isn’t it?

I feel I have made loads of new friends all over the world. Some of them I do regard with great affection, I really like them and I do actually feel loyalty towards them. But I could hardly say I ‘know’ them, could I?

I’ve never met them. They’ve never met me.

How honestly do we portray ourselves?

Did you know I can be incredibly irritating? I’m sometimes miserable as sin? I can get very tetchy when irritated myself?

Of course you didn’t know that. Why on earth would I tell you things like that? I want you to like me, for goodness sake.

So, why would we assume we ‘know’ our cyber ‘friends’?

Have you ever accidentally deeply offended someone you think of as a friend? Made that assumption: thought you knew them? Their blog posts and comments seemed to reveal their personality so clearly that you honestly thought you knew them and you said something, gave an honest opinion and the other party was hurt and offended. You wish you could take it back. Wish you’d smiled and said nothing. Kept your opinions to yourself.

The simple thing is to shrug and say, ‘Ah well, you have to be thick-skinned in this business. It isn’t my fault he/she is too sensitive.’ But, that’s not the way of friendship, is it? Remember? Loyalty, liking, affection? Where do they come in?

If we really want our cyber friends to be real friends, we must treat them with respect and affection as far as we are able, given the unreal circumstances. We can try to get to know them, warts and all. We can let them get to know the real us, warts and all. And we can try to be understanding and treat them with care and sensitivity. Otherwise, we shall lose them, lose their friendship, and, who knows, perhaps they could have become ‘real’ friends somewhere along the online.

~~~

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vashti Quiroz-Vega
    Mar 25, 2014 @ 17:58:44

    Hello Christine! I believe one can develop real, long lasting friendships online. As long as we’re honest, truthful and respectful of one another and as long as we are our true selves. How much of ourselves we reveal is the same online as offline. There are people that I’ve worked with for 13 years and I know nothing about them because they keep to themselves and reveal nothing. Do you ever really know anyone? Really? There are a couple of people That I met on Facebook about 8 years ago. We’ve remained friends throughout the years–sharing our lives via private messages, posts, and pictures. We finally decided to meet in NYC last year. We spent the week together and we were like 3 sisters. It was awesome! We’re still friends (closer than ever). I’m attending one of my friend’s wedding at the end of this year and another’s Birthday Bash in the summer. We’ll all see each other again at both events. I try to have integrity and be the person that I am on and offline, and I’m sure there are many like me out there. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply

    • cicampbell2013
      Mar 25, 2014 @ 18:34:16

      Oh, that’s lovely, Vashti. Such a beautiful experience.
      Yes, I also have online friends that I have known for years and we’ve shared many ups and downs via email, Facebook messages etc. You are right, as long as we are honest, truthful and respect one another, of course it can work.
      But I do still think we have to be cautious not to assume too much too quickly. Just as there will be many wonderful experiences like yours and mine, there will also be many not so wonderful.
      I love that you are honest and have integrity and I hope that we might meet some day and cement a ‘real’ friendship, just as we are making a ‘virtual one.’ xxx

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply

  2. Yolanda Isabel Regueira Marin
    Mar 25, 2014 @ 19:30:36

    I agree that meeting someone face to face doesn’t give you a greater insight into who they are. Many people wear mask whether in real life or online. I have met some amazing people online whom I feel close to and am happy to open up to. Some I, would now consider friends and I would be delighted to meet one day, others I enjoy chatting too but there is not that level of closeness. I have been close friends a few people I met online for over 10 years, one I met personally after 2 years and it was as if we had known each other forever. The key is to be yourself and be honest and considerate of others in all aspects of life. I love the poem Christine xx

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  3. Zee
    Mar 25, 2014 @ 22:34:48

    I tend to go through my Facebook list and ‘cull’ people that aren’t really friends. Like Yolanda and Vashti have said, we can each do our part by putting forth our ideas with honesty and integrity, and find others whom we click with that do the same.
    Another definition of a friend is: ‘a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection’. Reminds me of Barney’s song, “I love you, you love me…” hehe! There are a lot of friendships, and a lot more friendships in the making, both online and off. Quite frankly, I interact with friends online more than I do offline – it’s just a different medium for friendship.
    Annnnd that’s enough blabber from me. Loved this post, Christine (it also reminded me I’ve got a similar topic in draft that needs to be published, so watch this space!)

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Cheryl Clark
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 11:29:26

    Oddly enough, I think I’ve learned more about my “real” friends and family from interracting on Facebook than I have in a more traditional way. Sometimes, that’s more than I’d like to know, and I liked them better before I saw what tends to spill out of their heads when they post. Sometimes, they are more comfortable showing their softer side with the distance social media affords. In either case, you do learn that people are more than what you see (in person and online) and you cultivate patience and forgiveness for their little missteps.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • cicampbell2013
      Mar 26, 2014 @ 13:40:30

      Now that’s really interesting, Cheryl, and I know just what you mean. I have learned a lot from my family’s posts and comments too. It looks like we’re all in agreement over the need to cultivate good qualities to interact with our friends however we do so.

      Like

      Reply

  5. Tanya Miranda
    Mar 28, 2014 @ 22:54:52

    Beautiful post Christine. I feel like I know you a little bit more now. 🙂

    Online personalities are thin at a glance, but there is always the option to go deeper. Technology, social media, internet, whatever you want to call it, isn’t the barrier, it’s our fear of letting someone new into our lives. Friendship is two way street, pulling, pushing. warts and all, and not everyone is ready for that. (Hell, I wasn’t ready for social media and I actually worked in the field for several years!!)

    But opening yourself up like that, letting people inside… it’s scary. No different than when you meet someone on the street. It takes one of you to make that first move, to make that first phone call to get together, or to send that first email about suggestions on your writing, or to comment on a blog post.

    I guess the rule is, treat people online as if they were sitting right in front of you. And if you find someone being mean spirited, then it has nothing to do with the safety and disconnect that the internet provides – it’s all about their personality. And to those folks, I shrug my shoulders and move on, just like I would if they were right in front of me.

    Love you video. Very personal. Feels like I know you even more!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • cicampbell2013
      Mar 28, 2014 @ 23:54:18

      Thank you, Tanya. A lovely comment and you are absolutely right. If we treat others as we’d like to be treated, it usually works out well.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the video. The aim was to do just that…to let people get to know me a little better. I’m happy it seems to work.

      Like

      Reply

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