About three years ago, a friend introduced me to a couple who ran their own business, and seemed perfect. They had been together for nearly 20 years, had two handsome teenage sons, and the beautiful wife was so eloquent in her speaking, that I remember admiring their family a lot, just by this one chance passing.
I recently learned the man had hung himself. Exactly why, I don’t know.
The shocking news made me realize that we come into contact with so many people every day, and never know their real stories, their turbulence or problems. When everything seems okay on the outside, when Twitter and Facebook updates seem like their world is perfect, who’s to say it really is?
Then again, who’s to judge? We can only accept each other as people, all passing through the same planet, living our journeys, and getting by one day at a time. It made me think about the “friends” I do have listed, and what actual relationships are nurtured because of social networks.
Last week, I listened to two couchsurfers (whom I’ll call Will and Ray) talking about Facebook, and the conversation went like this:
Will: Everyone feels like you know everyone’s lives, based on the updates.
Roy: But it’s the start of your conversation with that person.
Will: But I would inquire as to how many of those interactions turn into real life friendships, or relationships. Because a lot of people are very curious about what you’re doing, but once they find out, you go your separate ways. So at the end of the day…
Roy: But we’re all so busy with our own lives…
Will: I think the biggest thing for me is Facebook makes it easy to be a lazy friend. For me, friendships are something that you work at, you need to make an effort to stay in people’s lives—if you want to—and FB makes it easy for people to feel like they are, but they’re not.
I know that social networks can be a powerful tool, either way. I hope we can make it something that deepens our relationships and friendships, enabling us to reach out more, to live fuller lives, to enrich ourselves and those around us with good vibes, and positive feedback.
We may not have perfect lives, but we can have perfect peace, and create solid, real friendships that matter.