Sunday, June 26, 2011


I've been listening to many people complain about how their friends are treating them lately. Friends don't call or stop by anymore. They turn down dinner invitations. They don't come to group events. Few if any spontaneous potluck suppers on a deck overlooking the lake. And then they complain about not knowing anyone.

Take yesterday, for example. Our homeowners association has an annual meeting/potluck barbeque every June. Fewer than 25% of the owners and their spouses turn out. This year, several new owners came to the end our our cul-de-sac. They got to meet other neighbors and found they had a lot in common with many of them. One owner, however, didn't show up. I was surprised, since she had been looking forward to the meeting, looking forward to connecting with her neighbors. I called her to see if everything was all right, and left a message on her cell. Nothing yet, although I know she's fine. She was out walking her new puppy this morning. Sadly, an opportunity missed to talk with neighbors.

One woman recently told me that we would probably be close friends if this were a different time and place. Puzzling statement, since we live barely 25 miles away, share many of the same literary passions, and love a good cup of tea or coffee. Still, with all we have in common, we have tried -- and failed -- four times in the past four months to get together for girl talk. We are supposed to meet tomorrow, but since she hasn't responded to my latest e-mails on where to meet, I've made other plans.

Two dear friends of many decades tell me I'm one of their best friends, yet when I need something, they are "busy." When one suffered a loss earlier this year, I dropped everything to be at her side, but when I needed a bit of consolation weeks later, she was too busy. Bridge, golf, you know how it is. Yes, I know. And I'm afraid this friendship may have run its natural course. The other invited himself up to visit, only to forget he asked to come. Fortunately, we know not to "hold his room" if someone else wants to drop in for a weekend.

I wonder how many people think they are being friends when they forward jokes all the time, but don't take time to drop two lines into an email. At least the jokes tell me they are alive. And how many other people think they are being good friends because they post what they are doing on Facebook. I see Facebook as a public broadcast service. I love it when someone likes what I post, or responds.

And I was very grateful to all those who sent condolences when my cat died. It meant a lot. It would have meant even more if some of my closest friends had called. But, hey, that would actually involve personal contact. Ooooh, maybe we have become a society where our human interaction is filtered through our keyboards. As a writer, I filter life thought my keyboard, but I still like sitting with someone and chatting. Face to face. Not Facebook to Facebook. I like being old school.


Cathy Kennedy said...

As a society, we are becoming high tech hermits in a nutshell and I'm just as guilty as the next person. However, I do love face-to-face interaction I can only when visiting with someone who's dear to my heart.

The "Good Ole Days" is a party a phantom of our imagination. While we reminisce about what once was, we know in truth that we can't give up the modern conveniences to go back.

Loved your musings on this thought, though...~Cathy

Betsy Ashton said...

Cathy, I agree that the "good old days" weren't as good as the distillation of our memories insist. Still, I do wish we could recapture some of the face-to-face contact that is missing. Thanks for reading the entry.

Jennifer Merritt said...

In defense of facebook, it helps me keep in touch with people I wouldn't otherwise. I'd lost track of one of my best friends in high school. As much as the friendship meant at the time I probably would not have looked her up in person. Because of facebook I know when her kids graduate and her dog died as well as little day to day things. We aren't friends the way we were, but I like having her back in my life. Limited exposure is better than none.

I like knowing what's going on with you too, and I don't know you well enough to call you on the phone. It's a different kind of interaction, but I still value it.
That said, face-to-face girl talk is the best!

Betsy Ashton said...

You know, just picking up the phone and chatting would help us get to know each other better, Jennifer. I miss girl talk. I'm too old to worry about my period, or make up or boys, but not too old to talk about other things.