Carol King wrote the beautiful words to You’ve Got a Friend back in 1971. It’s one of those timeless songs that crosses generational boundaries. It speaks to the value of friendship and, implicit in that relationship is a commitment to be there for our friends.
There have been a couple of blogs written recently that deal with what being a friend means. You can see what Bill Dorman says here and what Shonali Burke says here. It made me realize that there are very big sociological changes going on in our definition of friendship due to social media.
Our friendships are no longer centered on the “convenience” of a particular location. We don’t need to rely only on our geographic community for great friendships. With social media, we have the ability to meet like-minded people in the blogosphere, on Facebook, on Twitter and most recently on Google+. This new culture of friendship creates a new culture of relationship nurturing. Because I am lucky enough to be able to call a number of social media acquaintances true friends, I wanted to share some things that I discovered that helped me nurture this new culture of friendship.
1.) Become active in the online communities that your friends have “created” to help support their endeavors and their passion.
2.) Engage in, but do not monopolize, “conversations” that arise in blog commenting, Facebook status updates or Twitter.
3.) Reserve non-related conversations for private messaging systems, like Facebook message, Twitter’s DM or even emailing. Do not alienate others in the social media communities by keeping them out of “your” conversations.
4.) Humor is a powerful tool…nothing creates good feelings in friendships quicker than being able to find the humor in most situations. Use it.
5.) Don’t stalk. I know that sounds counter intuitive to suggestion #1, but there is a very big difference between being supportive and being a stalker. #justsayin’ …pay attention.
6.) Show appreciation and gratitude for your friendship as you would with a friend who lives down the street from you. Friends need to know that they are cared about and treasured whether it’s an online friend or your neighborhood friend. Show some love.
So, nurture and cherish those new friends that you are making via social media. Let them know that they are appreciated. If you are very lucky, you may be able to meet them in real life one day and, if you have laid a sturdy foundation for a healthy friendship, the IRL meeting should be very meaningful!
Never forget…friendships are a gift.