You Got To Have Friends

Mar 06

BetteMidlerSmile Or do you?

Yes, yes, of course you need friends.

What would we do without them to laugh with, cry with, get mad at, sympathize with, envy, pity, gossip about. . .

What would gossip be without friends? Celebrity trash talk just doesn’t satisfy that need for dishing the dirt on people you know.

Or, as Bette Midler would say:

                             You got to have friends
                             The feeling’s oh so strong
                             You got to have friends
                             To make that day last long

But the Divine Miss M is talking about actual people you have had actual contact with. (I realize the concept is quaint.) What about all those “friends” you have on Facebook and Twitter and your followers on  LinkedIn?

Followers: it sounds as if you’re leading a cult. Or that you’re, at the very least, very important. Oh well, we all need an illusion or two.

Six Degrees of Separation:

Did you know that that phrase was not just a play, or something we say about Kevin Bacon, but the result of an actual study done back in the dark ages (1967) before Facebook? A psychologist, name of Stanley Milgram, conducted an experiment with about 300 volunteers who sent a message by postcard (remember those?) through friends and then friends of friends of friends in a Boston suburb. The result was what we now call “six degrees of separation,” although Milgram never used that term. The point is, we’re all connected. Or linked.

BTW, that was the very same Stanley Milgram who conducted the infamous obedience experiment, where people were found to be willing to do dreadful things (like seeming to electrocute a fellow human being) if an authority figure told them to do it. Check Wikipedia if you don’t believe me. But believe me, I would have failed the obedience experiment, because authority figures give me hives and I wouldn’t have pulled the switch.

FacebookPeopleClose Encounters

of The Internet Kind

But back to friends. On line. I have more than 1000 on Facebook. That’s nice. We communicate. I get to see pictures of their spouses and/or pets.  Some look similar. It’s good keeping up. Wonder how many degrees of separation that makes?

But here’s the question: other than the Facebook friends who are also actual friends or family, would /could any of these people actually do friend-like duty for me, like accompanying me to a medical test or listening to me grouse about any one of the myriad things I tend to grouse about?

A Facebook post is good: I enjoy writing them, reading them, commenting, and even “liking.” But sometimes I really need face to face. Or at least a phone call. Even a long email will do. A postcard once in a while wishing I were there?

And the thing about friends is . . .

FacebookImaginaryFriendsYou need them not just to lean on in bad times, but maybe even more important, to celebrate with in good times— preferably at the drop of a hat. Literally. I just dropped a beret. Want a Chardonnay?

And birthdays, perhaps also to bemoan, but definitely to get together and laugh/cry in your beer. Word to the wise: Martinis work faster. But not on an empty stomach. Anniversaries, promotions, sale of your book, Groundhog Day, whatever.

Sure it’s nice to be remembered on Facebook, and seriously, I don’t consider all of these people “imaginary.” In fact, I’m getting to know some of them pretty well based on their posts and comments.

But dammit, when I have something nice happen, or when I’m having one of those days, I want to meet a live person of the human variety at Mollys, a real Irish tavern with booths and sawdust on the floor (!) and everything for an actual hamburger and a drink of the alcoholic variety that I can actually drink not just look at, although lord knows I like all those pictures on Facebook.

Got that, Internet gods? Not virtual reality, not sort of real, but real reality. Interesting concept, no?

Oh, and make the burger rare the fries real crispy. Life is good.

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