NOTE: I’m on a self-improvement kick, and after the interaction with my former male best friend, I’m paring down my social circle. The following is a note I wrote on Facebook.
In this age of technology, telling Tita Tessie in Tijuana about Taylor Swift’s new song is not out of the question – even if it’s 2 AM and you’re in Tehran.You can also tell her about Jennifer Aniston’s latest love interest, the preferred sexual positions of Paris Hilton, and the boy you went down on in 4th period history. I mean, ya know, if you and your Tita Tessie in Tijuana are close like that.
More often than not, however, if you’re the type to kiss and tell on the internet, you’ll do so on a blog, or some other forum where anonymity is controllable. It is on these “web logs” that you may spew your most private and scathing secrets and have an audience ooh and aah at your lingual dexterity and controversial ideas – all the while staying relatively hidden from peoples’ prying eyes and critical glares.
Blogging is a safe space in which to share the innermost workings of your mind. There is no need for pretense. No need for lies. No need for caring about appearances. Unlike in day-to-day, in-person interaction, your audience is free to peruse your personality and walk away whenever they like – without any harm done. Their negative comments can be deleted out of your life. There are privacy measures to ensure the safety of your unmitigated flow of thoughts. In these ways, you are free to really be yourself, and there are fewer social repercussions than one may otherwise face.
I’ve been blogging for 4 or 5 years now, and I can say with certainty that I hold my blogger-friends in high regard if only because they know the ins and outs of my daily thoughts and experiences. There is a certain loyalty built on blogging; like the bonds of criminal co-conspirators, blogger relationships are build on a knowledge of hidden and shared truth. We are privy to tales of success, strangeness, and screw-ups, and we realize that most of these stories are for our eyes only.
Despite the fact that we may never meet in person the blogger behind the words, we are the intended audience. We are the support system that validates small victories and acknowledges all apprehensions. We are the carriers of covert confessions, the coursel prized for our lack of personal prejudice, the caring words that soothe frayed souls. In a lot of ways, blogger friends are better than real-life friends. We know about each other only that which is necessary to create a valuable relationship; yet even when we learn something about our blogger-friend that stirs malcontent, our daily lives are relatively unaffected by these relationships, so it’s easy for us to let go of judgment or criticism and simply be a good friend.
My impending motherhood has forced me to think a lot about my relationships. Some have broken under the weight of adulthood, others have thrived in the light of menial attention. However, in this age of around-the-clock-availability, there are other questions that arise about friendship: Sure there are the usual categories of “friend”, “good friend”, “business associate”, and “acquaintance” – but how about the other friends? How about the people we befriend on Facebook, many of whom we’ve never met? How about the people we’ve known for years who have simply changed beyond recognition? How about the people with whom you’ve grown up who now have incompatible values? How much of myself am I to share with these people? And how much constitutes an actual friendship?
In this heavily-politically correct world of results-driven success, the compulsion to stake claim on your true identity is real and unnerving. Compound the natural instinct to create a persona with one’s ambitions and the usual hardships of personal evolution, and it’s very difficult to remember your own identity, let alone those of your friends.
So I propose an experiment. I’ll be just as irreverent and strange and unnervingly honest in these notes as I am when communicating with my closest friends and the most distant strangers. I’ll open myself up to criticism and judgment, knowing full well that I am, in many ways, the antithesis of what you think me to be. I will allow you all to burden me with your own values and insecurities. I will get to know a lot of you all over again (or for the first time). And in that way, I’ll learn who my “real friends” are.