Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Faux Friends

Online relationships are tricky. Whether it is someone from my past that I haven't had any contact with in years, or a family member that I don't see very often, or even people that I have never met in real-life, the way that people deal with each other online is often very different than in real life.

Since opening a Facebook account not so long ago, it has changed the way I see people and things.

For one thing, when we read things that others post to these websites, we start feeling like we know them better than we actually do. It is very easy (at least for me) to lower my barriers and to feel emotionally connected. This tends to give a false sense of security and makes it easy to believe that we are closer than we really are, therefore enabling us to think it's okay to share our hearts...when in fact it is not.

I am not talking about opposite-sex friendships leading to something inappropriate (although that danger does exist), but rather just a false sense of intimacy that develops...a faux friendship, if you will.

One such instance happened a while back, when I read a note that a relative had written on Facebook. This is a person that I love and respect and have enjoyed reading his writings very much. But I found the direction that his posts were going a bit disturbing. I sent him a message telling him that I was concerned for him and that I had decided not to read his posts for a while because I didn't seem to be able to keep from leaving negative/snide comments, so it was better if I just didn't read his posts.

Talk about opening a can of worms.

Not only did he amend the original post to blast me, but he sent me an angry message, bringing up all kind of things from the past that had nothing to do with this. I could only deduce that his intent was to hurt me, as he said that I had hurt him...and he was successful.

Should I have just kept my thoughts to myself? Probably so. But this goes back to the original subject of this post, which is that false sense of intimacy. I felt that I was close enough to him that I could speak my heart in love and that even if he didn't accept it, at least he would hear and understand my concern.

Boy, I could not have been more wrong.

What I heard him saying is that because he has made some gay/lesbian friends, now he is leaning toward the belief that their love must be pure and therefore accepted by God.

What he heard me saying is that I am threatened by all things homosexual and that I believe Christians should beat them over the head with their Bibles until they see what dirty sinners they are. (NOT)

Angry impasse.


Another situation just happened this week. I have been a moderator on a mom's forum for a few years. We post about many things on this forum, sharing details of our lives, offering advice and prayers, laughing and crying together. I've met many of the women through Mom's Night Out and different activities.

What I realized is that many of their children have had birthday parties in the last couple of months, but that BK had not been invited to any of them, even though they posted photos and it was clear that many of the other kids were there. So I decided to post and just ask about it...telling them that I was not upset, just curious.

A few people answered, but the one that stood out to me made it clear that we were just "online friends" and she felt that should explain it.

Wow. Seriously?

Okay, so now I am having to rethink all of my online relationships...and maybe some of my real-life ones too. Are they genuine or faux?

I'm not sure that I am going to like the answers. Suddenly I feel very lonely.


Danielle said...

as i read this i could not help but think how this is one more reminder that i can't cling too tightly to this world. the people and things here are just plain ole fickle. sorry for your hurts deidre!

~ said...

Thanks Danielle...and you are so right.