Social Network

If you visit here very often, you’ve probably guessed that I’m something of an introvert, happy with just me, myself, and I for company. I reach out to people most often through words on this space, and recently, on that most ubiquitous of social networks, Facebook.  It takes an effort for me to initiate social contact, and so, in a life that sometimes seems overloaded with things requiring effort, I allow my social life to languish.

Yesterday was a marked change in that usualness, a day brim full with unexpected social networking.  Early in the day, I met two long-time blogging friends for lunch.  In the five years that I’ve been blogging, this was the first time I had ever met any member of that particular network face-to-face.  It was such a delight, to hear the real voices of these two women whose writerly voices have whispered in my ear so often.  We talked about blogging, how we came to it, why we continue with it (or not).  We talked about life in general, our own lives in particular.  We finished each other’s sentences on occasion, and exclaimed in resounding recognition of each other’s feelings.  “Me too!” and “Yes, I know!” were frequently heard throughout the conversation.

And then last night two friends from church came to the house, friends who have just returned from China where they picked the place they will live for the next three years.  I wrote about them here, this adventure on which they are about to embark, and how filled with awe I am at the thought of making such a major change in lifestyle at our age.  Although I’m saddened by their departure from our little circle of friends,  I am emboldened by their courage and their willingness to embrace a new challenge.  Their social network is about to be turned completely on its head, and will doubtless expand in a myriad of unimaginable ways.

At lunch yesterday, we talked a bit about one’s circle of friends, and how the social network tends to shrink with the years.  I’ve seen that happen with my mother, how as she has lost one friend and relative after another, she’s had no means of replacing them, so her entire social life revolves around us and one neighbor.  The older we get, the greater the effort it is to keep the network healthy and vibrant.

But I’m beginning to realize how important it is to make that effort, especially for people whose family is miniscule.  While it’s easy for an introvert like me to stay inside the safe shell of my comfort zone, it can also be lonely, a loneliness that I don’t always recognize, but which may manifest itself in other ways.

It’s not always easy to make new relationships.  The internet provides one avenue down which to explore, a place to meet other like minded people from all over the world.  It’s a miraculous thing – but it’s also a little bit dangerous, especially for someone who finds it easier to remain tucked away in a little cubbyhole.  Because as fascinating and easy as it is to develop a relationship of sorts online, it is ever so much more satisfying to share that relationship through personal contact.  I realized that yesterday afternoon, communing with my friends over Sacher torte and big mugs of coffee, and last night, sipping wine and looking at photos of some other friends new home in China.

Today, I’m back in my easy chair, surfing the internet, Magic and Molly my only companions.  But it’s good to know my social network extends beyond the realm of this room and this computer screen, and into the wider world where it belongs.

How about you?  What’s your social network like?


17 thoughts on “Social Network

  1. How about you? What’s your social network like? … richer and more interesting — thanks to you! Wonderful to finally get to meet!

  2. Dear B, Wish I could have been there. It is awesome (really!) that you three got together. I can only imagine. I’ve had the op to meet three of my daughter’s blog friends with whom I also blog/keep in touch and meeting them in person was like “magic” somehow, erasing all the miles (and in my case, age!) among us.
    Hope to meet you in real life, too!
    Your point about social networking and getting on with a smaller circle of friends is one I hadn’t considered – tho’ I’m not a facebook fan, I will keep it in mind and make sure I’m “communicating” all along the way as well!

    • It was great fun meeting those two, and in talking we discovered that so many of connections came from Write on Wednesday…that made me smile 🙂
      (BTW, I’ve revived that prompt this year.) I wish we could stage a WOW get-together..maybe have a writer’s roundtable weekend??

      I do watch the Oscars… mostly for the glamour factor…I haven’t seen too many of the movies. But I’ll be thinking of you…

  3. I think that I’ve learned over the last couple of years to talk more easily to strangers face to face, therefore meeting more easily people

    yet I do not get “real new friends’ quickly at all.

  4. This has been a vein of thought for me lately. We’ve lost a number of friends over the years and miles. So many factors influence your circle of friends: where you live, if you have children, where you work, etc.

    We’ve lost some friends and family through death in the past few years. We lost contact with a few friends when we moved to MD years ago. We lost contact with more when we moved back and more when some retired in distant locations, and still more when we were at Dad’s. It is a concern.

    I’m happy for you that you met some of your blogging friends. I’m sure it was a delight.

    • Every year I seem to lose friends – already – to illness. Some have retired and moved to greener pastures, so that’s nice for them. It was fun meeting the blogging friends in real life..would like to do more of that!

  5. Becca, it couldn’t have been better! I was simply over the top all Saturday and Sunday, too. And the best part was that it was as good as I thought it would be. Maybe even better! I know it will happen again — sooner rather than later! And I’ll look forward to the next gathering with just as much anticipation as this!

  6. I hate to sing the same song again, but it’s mine to sing just now, so I might as well.

    I’ve seen my circle growing smaller – and because of my own actions, rather than circumstance. I have friends I used to visit in places like San Antonio on a monthly basis, other friends I’d just pick up and travel with on weekends and so on.

    Now, I can’t, because of my responsibilities with mom. If I could afford to have someone stay with her, I could do more traveling, but everything just now is so “iffy” – with the economy, her shrinking assets and so on – it’s hard to pay the going rate for even two days.

    The consequence is that I’ve pulled back – often not even telephoning – because it’s so painful. Easier to just sigh and say, “Oh, well. This is my life.” But I can’t go on like this much longer – it’s time to find a solution, before Mom is 100 and I’m 74, for gosh sakes!

    Part of my problem is that Mom used to go stay with her sister for a couple months each year, which was a great help. Now, my aunt is 84 and Mom can’t travel. Double sigh.

    So. How’s my social network? Pretty frayed, for sure. If you’re able to get out and about and travel/socialize, count your blessings, and take the opportunity!

    • Linda, I know what it’s like being the sole caretaker for an elderly parent. It’s no picnic, and the responsibility impacts your life in many, many ways. My mom is still pretty self sufficient, but I don’t like leaving her for very long at a time. And I also know that her current level of independence could change for the worse at any time. I know I need to find a backup, but that’s a pretty daunting task, too. It’s a dilemma, that’s for sure.

  7. What a thoughtful and thought-provoking post…thank you.
    One of the great advantages of taking up travel writing these last few years, has been the opportunity to meet some wonderful writers and enthusiastic travelers. Likewise, joining a travel media association gave me an entry into a huge social circle of like-minded people. It has expanded my world in so many ways. I too, am very aware at how easy it is for our world to shrink as we age. I think the key is to make friends in a wide range of ages and interests. And Becca, you are so right, that we need to do this in person, as often as possible, pushing past what’s easy and comfortable and making the effort to reach out. It’s the key to a large life in every sense.
    All this to say…if you’re ever in Vancouver…give me a call. I’d love to meet.

    • Colleen, Vancouver is on my short list of places to visit soon – I’m not a huge traveler, but it’s a place I definitely want to see. So you may hear from me yet!

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