May 7, 2014

The shortcut to friendship

I'm taking a one day break from my There's More Than One Way to Be a Mom series to join up with a Blog Carnival on social media, the internet, and friendship. The other carnie bloggers are listed at the bottom of this post. I'll resume the Mother's Day series tomorrow!

One day Cari Donaldson made the comment that it didn't matter if she only knew you through the internet. If she talked to you every day and thought of you as a friend you were a friend. An in real life friend.

Her declaration allowed me to let out a sigh of relief because suddenly I didn't feel like a weirdo  - the only one who felt that way about her online friends. These women who I chat with and pray for every day, who happen to live in other states and time zones and countries, whom I had never actually met in real life: THEY WERE MY FRIENDS! Because Cari said it was okay! (Thank you, Cari, my friend.)

People who are not active online think it's peculiar that I cut short family gatherings to host a woman from New Jersey and her large family when I've never met them. They think it's strange that a lady from California would want to pack up her kids, make a bunch of meals, sew my newborn a baby blanket and bring all of them to me when we'd never even spoken on the phone before. They think it's creepy that one day a woman whose blog I read said she was publishing a cookbook and I was like, "eek! That's so great! Call me so we can squeal about it!" And then she did. And it was fun and felt really... normal.

Molly Makes Do, A Knotted Life, and Catholic All Year - representin
I have fabulous friends who I interact with online and in real life. There are friends and family who I am able to share life with because we can see one another's pictures on Facebook and Instagram and we can share funny stories in our blogs and statuses. But the thing about those friends, and only a small portion of them, is that it took me months and months and maybe even years to get to a place where I was comfortable enough with them to really be myself in front of them. In real life, I tend to bounce back and forth across the line of being an outgoing introvert and a quiet-loving extrovert and so there is only a small group of people who see all my silliness and have watched me fail as they have stood before me, flesh and blood.

The women who I know from online, well those relationships are very different.

I think that for me, as a woman who is very insecure, one of the beauties of the online world is you can't tell how overweight I am by looking at that small picture of my head on your Facebook wall and if we're both in a Catholic women bloggers group on Facebook then we're peers. I know that in creepier ways these can be seen as bad, but for the purpose of me chatting with some women I know through the Catholic blogosphere it's a very good thing. I don't have to stand in front of you as we meet for the first few times and worry that you're thinking about about how fat I am or that I'm a crazy Catholic woman ready to have ten more kids and judge your good time.

On an average day there's a fifty-fifty chance that I will not gather with the other moms at school pick-up but will instead stand off to the side by myself. But put me in a conversation on a  FB wall filled with my Catholic blogging peers and I'll ask bold questions, heartily disagree, excitedly agree, and made dumb jokes about being the future empress of the world.

Maybe it seems like cheating - like taking the easy way out - because I'm not working as hard or for as long on these online friendships. Maybe it is, but I like to think of it as a shortcut. An awesome shortcut that gets me right to the point. The foundation of most of the difficult stuff has already been laid: because we're devout, pope-lovin', orthodox Catholics we like babies, don't bash our husbands, celebrate feast days, need meatless meal recipes for Fridays, have political views that don't perfectly align with either US party, try to be charitable towards people who drive us crazy, try not to gossip, don't promote porn and Fifty Shades of Grey, and are always good for a prayer request.  Because I can assume all of that and not really make an ass out of anyone - well there's so much room for uplifting, interesting, challenging, encouraging, funny conversations. Iron sharpening iron, shoulders to cry on, wholehearted LOLs.

I am grateful for the friends I have made through the internet and I am grateful for the ways social media has strengthened all my relationships. Facebook and blogs really are a well for me. I may occasionally drink too much (spend too much time online) and become bloated some times but they are truly a great good in my life, because they are key in so many of the friendships in my life that are great goods.

She's hugging Facebook. Get it?
This post is part of a Blog Carnival that Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas invited me to attend. She and some of my other REAL friends are sharing their thoughts.
Haley
Kendra
Molly
Christy
Mandi

32 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh! I love the pic of you and Molly and Kendra! You are all adorable and I want to be there with you guys! Beautiful post, Bonnie.

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  2. Love this! I dont have a blog of my own, but I follow all of these wonderful ladies and their blogs and I too feel so validated just by finding you amazing women who share the same struggles, beliefs and ideals that I do!

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  3. I love this because it is spot on! I have met a handful on online friends in real life, making family (outside my husband and kiddos) thinking I should have a current picture taken for the obituary page! LOL And just next week, I fly down to meet in person Jen (From Forever, For Always, No Matter What) in real life...taking a moms weekend with her.

    I am so grateful for all the friends I have met online. And yes, it is a short cut, and who cares! At my age, I don't have "time" to mess around finding out if they are on the same page as I am. (when it comes to faith, homeschooling, etc.)

    Have a great week!

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  4. Agree with a high five!
    Bonnie...the part that struck me was the fact that online here, we find women like ourselves...those who DON'T bash their hubbys... ( what is up with that, anyway? ) and friends who spend their days like we do...loving God, and family and home.

    I used to feel alone...now here, I realize I'm not. I may be a fish out of water in my own surroundings...but online...I'm a member of the awesomest school of fish in the ocean!

    Thanks for the affirmation that online friendship is indeed...
    Rich and fruitful and valid...
    Now, I'm off to visit some friends.
    With the click of a mouse. : )

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  5. I don't feel that close to anyone online, perhaps because I don't have my own blog. But I think one of the reasons I enjoy blogs so much is that I am the only homeschooling Catholic mom in the entire county, perhaps the region(?). Even in our parish, there are only a handful of moms currently raising young children - and they work outside of the home and have two or three children and like to tell me there will be no more for them. So blogs are one of the only places I can go where I don't feel like such the oddball and I can see that there are other people trying to live a life similar to mine.

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    1. Karyn, I know you didn't ask for any feedback but I'm gonna give you some advice anyways! :)

      There are several women who read my blog who are not bloggers but we have been able to build a friendship because:
      - When they comment their name links to a profile with a picture and a short bio. The picture doesn't even have to be up close. Sometimes I just think, "Oh it's Stacy by the mountain because she's wearing a hat, I can't see her face or hair but she's got a mountain in the background of her pic." And the bio can just say: I'm Karyn. I live in the Northwest, homeschool my five kids, and I love running, date nights with my husband, and chocolate covered pretzels.
      - Their picture is also by their name when they comment.
      - They interact on my FB fan page, on Twitter, Instagram, etc.

      Maybe you could give those things a try and that might help you feel like you're a part of the club. Because you already are. :)

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    2. @Karyn, I am just echoing what Bonnie said. Choose a photo and use it for all you social media. That way no matter where we see you, we'll know you are the same person. Whether I am on Facebook, a combox or twitter, whenever see that sweet face in glasses with ruby red lips, I know Bonnie is speaking. Also, don't be afraid to comment and share your heart on the blogs you enjoy most. I have made OL friends with people who don't blog but who I've gotten to know through the com box, facebook or instagram. Hope to see you around! :-)

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  6. I love this! I don't know that I would call it a shortcut though. In fact, you become friends through actual investment of time and effort (reading, commenting, replying) and not "we're thrown into a similar situation I guess we'll be friends." Truthfully, the online relationships will probably last longer than situation friendships because even though "the blog is dead" our world is alive and well!

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    1. Yes, that's true. But it's just so much EASIER. Don't ya think it's so much easier?

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    2. Well the fact that I can comment and read any time of day in whatever state I'm in does suggest that it is easier. :)

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  7. Yes, yes, yes. Such a great post, Bonnie! Thank you for putting this into words so well, friend!

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  8. Love this series. Seeing how you've made good online friendships is the reason I'm going to really commit to blogging more and keeping up on others' blogs. I'm so happy I'm your real life friend. I'm hoping to make more real friends via the internet because it can get lonely our here in the real world sometimes. Love you Bonnie! :)

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    1. Love you too! And I need to call you!

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  9. Great post! And, it makes me so feel so much better that I've actually STAYED OVER NIGHT at friend's houses that I ONLY met online. In fact, I once parked my beat-up old van at a friend's house for 6 weeks...a friend I've only met through message boards.

    But, I agree that internet friendships are not a shortcut, they require effort and time, just as real friendships do.

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  10. I love this post, Bonnie, because although I have local catholic mom friends, we are all so busy we don't get to see each other face to face as often as we'd like. Plus, they aren't social media happy/crazy the way I am so we don't have that daily contact. My OL friends understand the bond you can have with a person without meeting them. (Heck, I fell in love with my husband before seeing him in person!) So it is nice to know that you and so many others share that bond and understand how important it in on our lives. :-)

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  11. Hey Bonnie, I definitely agree. I feel like I know you even though we haven't met. I hope that doesn't make me too creepy since I probably don't comment enough for you to recognize me. Funny story I recently started writing for Ignitum Today and thought, "Oh my goodness, it's like I'm a real blogger now. Bonnie blogs there."
    Thanks for sharing,
    Megan

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  12. So eloquently put!! I'm thinking I need to comment more instead of just lingering in the background reading so much stuff. Although I guess even though bloggers don't know me, I benefit greatly from reading what they have to say :)

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  13. I love this post. I feel the same way! I love connecting with other blog-moms. I used to feel weird that I had a blog. People in my school or in my workplace think it's weird to share so much on an online blog or on Facebook and such. But I feel like I've made connections with people who are like soul mates a little bit. We're all trying to raise our families and have some fun and connect with others and forge relationships. I am so grateful for your blog and Molly and all the other moms who have blogs I know. :) I can't wait to someday meet many of you in person. I can't do Adele thing this year (though at first I thought I'd be able to) because it's at the tail-end of our family vacation, but maybe some day one of those conference thingys will work out for me. :)

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  14. I don't have a blog either, but read a lot of them. I love social media. I have a full time job and don't really have any real life friends right now. I have co-workers and neighbors, but no one whom I see on a purely social basis. I would be so lonely without my online friends. It's great to have a group of people where the basics are understood and I can just be myself.

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  15. You mean you're not ready to have 10 more kids and judge my good time? But seriously, great post. I wouldn't think those things about you if I had met you in person first though, I swear!

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  16. Hi Bonnie!
    Love this Blog Carnival! Your post is exactly how I feel! So many times I have thought about shutting down my blog and Facebook account, but what keeps me wanting to stay connected on-line is all the encouragement and friendships I have gained from sharing with like-minded women. I have met with one blogger in real life and have spoken to a few over the phone. It's an amazing feeling to be connected with so many like-minded women that we may or may not ever meet in real life! Love your group bloggers picture in this post too!

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  17. I love this! I think it's an "easier" way to friendship in many ways because we are able to be on the even playing field. It is so much easier to open yourself up and lift others up when you each know you're coming from the same love of God, the Eucharist, children, all those big things that make life so amazing.

    I love that picture. It was such a great night and my first time meeting some of my fellow bloggers in person :)

    And so you know, when I met you, I was struck by your smile. Your whole being and happiness EXUDE from your face. It's amazing. Also, when I sat next to you the next day at Mother Assumpta's talk, I actually felt like a heathen because I was a little distracted thinking I liked your casual, pretty style :)

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  18. So true! And honestly? I used to make fun of people with "online friends" and now I'm totally one of them... But blogging allows us to connect with each other on a deeper and more immediate basis than is possible during those 5-minute post-Mass conversations or play dates when most of the conversation revolves around someone running to make sure that this, that, or the other toddler isn't cramming worms into his mouth/trying to pee on his sister/coloring on the wall with a sharpie she found, etc... I like that we have all the background information out of the way and can get straight to the heart of things!

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  19. Great post! I love the picture of you, Kendra, and Molly.

    I have a relationship with Facebook that is not good. I hardly ever use it. After reading this, I know what the problem is, my facebook friends are people I knew from school and a handful of family members. I have very little in common with most of them and we have made very different decisions about how we live our lives, so I stay off of FB because it feels foreign to me.When I joined FB years ago, it was fun connecting with people from school but then I would read things that would shock me or that were offensive, and I just decided to stay away from it.I have not mentioned my blog on FB and it does not have a FB page. After reading about your interaction with other Catholic bloggers and readers on FB, I realize that I could enjoy FB if my friends list was built up differently. I only have like 120 friends, but I guess I feel bad un-friending people that aren't really my friends, or something. I guess that is why I am focusing so much on Google+ right now. Anyway, you have given me something to discern now. Do I make FB more enjoyable and uplifting for me, or do I just walk away from it completely?

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  20. I wholeheartedly agree. I think I'm closer to some of my Facebook friends than I am to anyone in real life.

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  21. Great post! I especially love the paragraph that starts "Maybe it seems like cheating..." Since we can be so selective with who we "hang out" with on-line, in many ways it's easier to be ourselves, to be who we truly are, than it is sometimes with acquaintances face to face. Thanks for your thoughts on this! -Theresa

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  22. Love this post and definitely don't think it's cheating. I'm a fairly new commenter and recent blog follower. The reason I say it's not cheating is because you share so many wonderful, encouraging, and beautiful things on your blog. Your thoughts and charm just ooze and its such a gift that takes time to share! It's not often we get to sit down and share our hearts and thoughts with our nearby friends (because who has time for that, and then there is the changing of the poopy diapers and the tears and the nursing, etc.). The blogging community is beautiful for so many reasons and I pray that I'll be able to share in the awesome friendships and community that exist the more I let others get to know me :)

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  23. Ah, thank YOU for sharing this! Now I feel less odd and more normal to be closer to women who live in my computer that the women I see in daily life around my local area. As an Air Force wife, the women I know online really *are* lasting friends, whereas people I meet locally come and go, just I do, moving so often.

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  24. Thank you so much for this, Bonnie!! I've always had a little tension in my heart since beginning to blog, because I'm really drawn to stay connected with other blogging moms via internet, and that means I'm "plugged" it at times during the day. I suppose it's akin to being on the phone and chatting with friends, which doesn't appear to be as "thoughtless" as being on the computer. The only kink in the matter is that I don't want my boys to see me online all the time, because no matter how much I explain to them what I'm doing, there's simply no way that they can understand the "stay-at-home-mom-of-five-boys-need-to-feel-connected-to-the-outside-world!" More than anything, I just enjoy reading everyones stories, advice, tips, tricks and love for Jesus - it all keeps me going, keeps me sane, keeps me believing that I can do this MOTHERHOOD thing!!

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  25. Love this! I am new to the blogging community and have been really enjoying you wonderful women! I'm looking forward to becoming frIends with you, Bonnie! You are great!

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  26. Just want to chime in to say this is great and I always feel a little odd b/c I don't have a blog and don't comment regularly, but love you and so many of the other Catholic bloggers... I am sure that there are many of us who are so thankful for you and yet don't tell you enough. So thank you for all that you share! I really love you and your family!

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