Friday, January 20, 2012

Friendship in Print

One of my challenges this year is to take more time out for friendship. I think the Internet is an absolutely wonderful way of locating old friends, renewing past friendships, staying in touch, and making new friends. But, one of the big dangers I have seen and experienced with "friendship via the Internet" is how easily it is to misinterpret what is said in print. What can appear to be a rather terse note might just be a few words written in a hurry. What can appear to lack compassion or connection might be the result of fatigue on the part of the writer. It is just so hard to tell!

Another danger, I have found is how people often distance themselves from their words when they send emails or texts. That is good when the writer needs the distance to get more in touch with how he or she is really feeling. However, it is not good when people feel free to share things they would never feel comfortable saying to someone in person. I can't tell you how many people I have talked to who have seen friendships dissolve through insensitive posts on Facebook or quickly dashed off emails.

I find myself often trying to clarify what I mean through those ever prevalent emoticons or through an explanation of my tone in brackets "(sarcasm)," or "(I'm smiling while I type this)". But often, that kind of spelling out of emotions breaks the flow of what I am saying - and often just seems silly.

What ways have you found to use the Internet to strengthen these ties - and not harm them? What have you experienced in staying in touch via the Internet?

Warmly, and in friendship :)

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