Real friends

I am looking forward to meeting up with my friend AKMA in Oxford this morning (a fortunate by-product of having to cancel London meetings to take my daughter to her first day of work experience at The Oxford English Dictionary). AKMA and I have been friends for thirteen years. I have no hesitation in counting him a friend, but we have only met face to face a couple of times in all those years.

My kids will occasionally rib me about only having internet friends and not having real friends. Yet when Halley Suitt, Doc Searls, Megan Murray or Paolo Valdemarin have been to stay they have ended up saying “You know Dad, your friends are really smart and really nice”. To which I respond “Yep, it’s just that my standards for friends are higher than yours and mine are further apart”.

I know people struggle with the idea of real friends who don’t meet, But increasingly physical proximity is not necessary to build real friendships. In some ways, I would argue, the exchanges we have through blogging reveal more about us than we are comfortable with in face to face exchanges, certainly with casual friends.

My kids know that look on my face when I am stuck at a social occasion, say with a parent from school, with whom I have nothing in common, being forced to listen to them droning on about their job or football, wishing I was on the internet having a real conversation with real friends!

2 thoughts on “Real friends

  1. Fascinating – thanks Euan. I hesitate to write anything as a comment to this in case it is not profound enough to pass the test and I may scoot down the Internet friends’ league table!

    I suspect that blogging, which you do so well, IS a good way to create deeper connections, since writing often tends to reveal more, and go deeper than those schoolyard conversations. Yet I would say two things contrary:

    First, and obviously, not all online discussion is profound. Facebook is particularly interesting I think – it is fabulous as a way to keep in touch, yet when life’s toughest experiences hit, many people shy away from it. So there’s a risk it is another school-yard in which we present a front. What are the best online ways to share difficult stuff, I wonder? I’m sure it can be good. I know a few people who have blogged about their cancer experiences, very publicly and movingly. Maybe it is simply less about the medium, and more about people’s desire – and confidence – to be authentic as they go through life. In that case, we each need to choose the media in which we can be authentic and a bit vulnerable, without fear.

    Secondly (and perhaps this is also the obvious!) there is something special about certain face-to-face contact. Most notably mealtimes I think. Last year I organised a series of dinners at which people talked about their work, and their beliefs. Each evening, with only a little structure and facilitation, the depth of discussion was beyond almost anything I have experienced, and certainly beyond anything I have yet experienced online. Let’s not lose sight of the role of food plus conversation in the world! There is something almost sacramental about that, I think. I’d be interested in your friend AKMA’s reflections on the role of food in the world.

    Thank you for this and all your thoughtful posts. And for that occasional coffee we share too….



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