Social Networking and the Demise of Tangible Friends?

Before I had my baby, I worked full time, shift work as an emergency department nurse. The nature of my work meant I was physically socially isolated from my friends. I would be at work until 10 or 11pm and then back at 7am. I would work Saturday nights, Sunday days, New Years Eve, Easter Sunday, Labour Day. You name it, I probably worked it. I missed barbeques, shopping trips, parties, nights out and going to movies. The thing I missed the most though, was actual, physical friendships. Sure, I had my colleagues who were great people, but I didn’t want to talk shop 24 hours a day. So the friendships I had dwindled as they moved on to other tangible people (it was my fault that I wasn’t making the effort) and I found myself increasingly online.

In 2009, I was at work and I felt a sharp pain in my left lower abdomen. If it had been my right side, I’d have been asking for tests for appendicitis. Anyway, like all good emergency department nurses, I ignored my symptoms and soldiered on. Two days later, my abdomen was so distended and I couldn’t walk, so my husband drove me to work. In the car there I was thinking it could be an ectopic pregnancy or embarrassingly constipation. Thankfully, it was neither, but a burst ovarian cyst. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) after some more testing and told by a gynaecologist that “you probably won’t fall pregnant naturally. Come back and see me and I’ll put you on clomid”. Ok thanks for diagnosing me as infertile!

So, like all good emergency department nurses, I turned to Dr Google for a second opinion and came across a popular Australian parenting website. Not being a parent though, I’d never heard of it. My time since as a member of the forum has quite literally changed my life.

As I was so socially isolated, I started to form online friendships with mums of small babies, they were awake when I was, you see. My excuse was unable to sleep after a messy resuscitation, or a disasterous shift, they were awake breastfeeding a wee bairn. Over the course of the next year, I formed a very tight friendship with a group of ten ladies, whom I still speak to on a daily basis to this day. We’ve all had children, some have had two, since 2009. We use Facebook to chat privately. I’ve met a couple in real life. I consider these ladies to be among my closest friends and I honestly feel blessed to have met them.

What I’m finding amazing is how wonderful the online community is. Also, in the last few years, I have chatted online to a wonderful woman who I had the pleasure of finally meeting today.

The thing about these wonderful friends I have made, is that they have all made me realise that the people who I thought were my good friends, really meant nothing. These wonderful people are genuine and honest and just want to share their day and their stories with other like minded people.

Even after nearly four years on twitter, I’m still blown away by the outpouring of support that the community gives to a friend in need. Earlier this year, a lady was suicidal and tweeting her would-be final moments as the police negotiators were also talking her down from danger. For all the bad press ‘trolls’ get, there were none there that day. Just perfect strangers sending this woman messages of love and life. She survived and I’m happy to say is doing much better these days.

Even myself if I’m having a bit of a shocker, there is always someone to send a quick message back of strength and solace.

There may be some who read this and know that I’m talking about them and that’s ok. I want them to know how happy I am that they are in my life. Maybe social networking is an unconventional way to meet friends, but it’s certainly working here.

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17 thoughts on “Social Networking and the Demise of Tangible Friends?

  1. I hear you! I think sometimes I share more with my online friends than I do with my ‘tanglible’ friends. I don’t think people can get it, unless they’ve been through it like we have. After having baby E, I think I tweeted it before I smsd our friends… Weird for some.

    • I had just done my pregnancy test when my phone rang and my friend asked me what was wrong and I stammered “I’m pregnant” and she was like “that’s awesome! what did M say?” and I was like “He doesn’t know, I’m still in the bathroom, I only POAS a few minutes ago” then she called me a dirty bitch for having my phone in the bathroom, hahahahaha

    • Thanks πŸ™‚ I can honestly say that the online community has pulled me through some very dark times. What’s also great is how the online community has helped me to reconnect with wonderful friends, such as yourself. There’s nothing quite like history when it comes to people we care about xx

  2. I know what you mean about the friendships you can make via twitter and on-line. My home life as a recently retired teacher/principal meant I saw no-one anymore for a good old chat. I missed that! In 2010 twitter helped me reconnect with people from all walks of life, ages, and interests. I am feeling more socially busy now than when I worked. Great post! Visited by me, member of #TeamIbot Denyse

    • Thanks πŸ™‚ I think it’s important to acknowledge that the people in my computer are real & are just the same as me. I agree! I’m more social now that I have so many online contacts, than I ever was before. It’s wonderful. It’s also convenient. I was so isolated when I first had my baby & was awake 20 hours a day. The people in my computer were there to chat to. I’d have gone stir crazy if not for them.

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