When Facebook Friends Become the Real Thing

When Facebook Friends Become the Real Thing

I have a lot of “friends” on Facebook that I don’t really know. They may be friends-of-friends, or people I share interests with, but I’ve never met them in the flesh. That trend has been changing for me during the past few months.

It started with Page. A couple of months ago, I had lunch with a friend who mentioned Page because he knew we both graduated from Wake Forest, albeit several years apart. Our mutual friend raved about her clever posts of Facebook, so I sent her a friend request.

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Indeed, she’s got a wicked wit. So I dug a little deeper: turns out we were both members of the infamous S.O.P.H. “funk band” that seven friends and I started as a talent-free entry into our society’s annual talent show in our Junior year. Learning of this rare connection called for a glass of wine…and a real-life friendship was formed.

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In fact, last week we road-tripped together to the Newberry Opera House to sing our lungs out to “Age of Aquarius” at a Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. concert. She brought along Jen, now another new friend. We’ve committed to finding some small town attraction once a month or so to continue the tradition.

Then, there is Jill. Jill is friends with practically all my Facebook friends, yet I had never met her. She stands out for her clever posts as well, but also her lightening quick ability to “like” a mutual friend’s post one millisecond before me. Damn you, Jill!

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We recently realized we had something more than friends in common. When Jill saw my post about taking stand-up comedy lessons, she sent me a message that she had done the same last year. We set up a walking date to compare our routines and have since become great friends—we have participated in open mics together and constantly try out new material on each other. Score!

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Finally, there is Peas. Peas is a chicken owned by another Facebook friend I had never met, Laura Neff. Laura has a business called Nourish that delivers local, vegetarian, organic food to people too busy to cook. Like Page and Jill, her Facebook posts always got my attention, especially when she started sharing the lives of Peas, Stella, Comet and the other chickens that inhabit her life.

After developing a slightly unhealthy on-line obsession with Peas, I decided it was time to meet her in person (in chicken?).  On Sunday, Laura graciously invited me to her lovely home for hot tea, fresh gala apple slices and a visit. After an hour learning about each other’s lives, we went chicken calling and found the girls poking around the yard.

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Laura and I found plenty in common in addition to our mutual affection for her poultry, and we parted with promises to stay connected beyond Facebook.

I have plenty of complaints about Facebook. I tire of the “suggested posts”, the “Like This if You Love Your Second Cousin Once Removed” posts and the political tirades.

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Not the cats, though. I will never tire of cats.

As much as it aggravates me, it also rewards me. It’s reconnected me to childhood friends I haven’t talked to in years and exposed me to countless meals I might not otherwise be privy to. (Okay, that’s not really a plus.) And I’m connecting with new friends.

But it turns out the new friends it has brought me are very real—and they are well worth all the other frustrations that Facebook might bring.

What good has Facebook done for you?

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