Thursday, January 5, 2012

Life Off Line Challenge: Friendship

Congrats to Roxie for winning the Gooseberry Patch 2012 Family Meal Planner/Calendar! Thanks to everyone for sharing great suggestions for online recipes. Check this post if you want to read the awesome suggestions in the comments.

So what has the ONline world done to your friendships? Are you living a double life as someone else online? Or have you found genuine support in new relationships? In her book Friending, Lynn Baab says that "people thrive on connections." So true, but the world of on line media is changing the way we connect. Lynn also identifies our biggest challenges today as mobility and busyness.

Proverbs 18:24 points out that, "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Seriously, I have hundreds of "friends" on Facebook, but the definition of "friend" there is honestly different than what it has been in the past. Or is it? 

We have more contacts than ever, but does "friend" have different meanings? Do we really mean acquaintance? Contact? And are we still having regular, face to face, deep friendships, or have we forgotten how? It's pretty clear today that there are different kinds of friendships, and there are different modes of communication. New ones are being added all the time. How do your friends connect? 

When we have a preferred means of connection, it's easy to fall into the trap of assuming our friends connect the way we do. It's also easy to try and manipulate them into communicating in our way. "If you're not on Facebook, well, I guess you won't be my friend." ;) That's not friendly! Just because I "blog" (now a verb), I can't assume that all of my friends will have read all (or any!) of my blog, and I can't be offended if they didn't. If someone posts a FB status that they're having a baby, they can't assume everyone knows. Some friends communicate best in person, some on the phone, some thru texting. We have to know our friend's language and reach them that way, if we're to nurture the friendship. My sister Jenny isn't on Facebook and doesn't text; I need to call or email her. My sister Carrie and I like to text. My sister-in-law Chrissy had a daily blog in December to show us Christmas with her twins, but since she had another baby this week, I can't expect daily updates! Friends have different preferences. If a friend is to stick closer than a brother, then we have to find out how to stick to our particular friends. 

Real principles from our lives OFF line still apply ON line. Real people are behind online voices. Be ye kind ... build one another up in love ... be angry and yet do not sin ... God's Word guides us in each new tech mode. Online communication can keep us more up to date, preparing the way for "real" connection, or it can keep us from being real. Without realizing it, we may become more intimate online than offline. 

Think about these ONline benefits and these OFFline cautions:
Benefit of bridging distance .... caution of becoming distant in local relationships.
Benefit of creating community ... caution of just choosing people like us.
Benefit of nurturing intimacy ... caution of voyeurism, snooping into people's lives.
Benefit of providing support ... caution of assuming what people should/do know.
Benefit of expanding options ... caution of being overloaded w/people & info.

Life on line helps overcome the distance and fast pace that are challenges to friendships today, but we still need a deep and authentic quality in some of our relationships. It will be that kind of a friendship that will ride the waves of adversity  ... and they may ride it online or offline. We benefit from both. I've benefited from both.

Do you need to "Rediscover Real" in your friendships? Here are a few ideas for the Life OFF Line Challenge today:
Life OFF Line Challenge -

  • Have you made a friend ON line? Get their real address and mail them something "real." I've had several on linen friends do this, and it so blessed me!! You could also set up a Skype call or phone call. Take the virtual relationship a "real" step further.
  • Remember your local friends. Do something old fashioned ... go out for real coffee, talk on the phone, or get really crazy and invite them to your REAL house for dinner! ;) 

There IS a friend who sticks closer than a brother, & we can rediscover how sweet they are in Life Off Line.

What lessons have you learned in "friending" people online?

4 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Cindy Bultema said...

I've learned it's a real blessing when on-line friends meet in real life and spend time together!  Thankful for our on-line friendship, as well as our opportunities to connect face to face. Looking forward to the next time we'll actually "be" together...wonder what state it will be in??  MI? NC? TN??
Blessings to you~
Cindy :)

Julie_Sanders said...

You are one of my "online to offline" blessings! :)

Julie Sanders

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Nicholeakao said...

I'm a texter, but I like calls & face to face interraction to feel connected. Certain loved are texters & certain ones are not. & some friends only text but never call, which is a little strange to me too! Lol. This online, offline relationship stuff is so complicated! ;) but everything here makes perfect sense.

Julie_Sanders said...

Yes, it can feel a bit complicated. We can get swept away without even realizing it, and our friendships right along with it. Sometimes I feel like I need to take a deep breath and just take time to think about how communication is changing, instead of just getting caught up! Even in this, prayer is so needed. I might be one of those "strange" ones who will text, but rarely call. ;) Julie Sanders

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