Friday 24 February 2012


Sometime back around the time this photo was taken (in the early 80s) friendship was a pretty simple thing. You'd meet somebody; at school (or work), because they lived near you or because there was a family connection; you'd find you had things in common and you became friends.

Maybe the friendship lasted through the years, a lifetime, maybe it lasted a summer.

Sometimes you'd really make an effort to keep in touch (letters, phone calls, cards on special occasions). 

Mostly though apart from a handful of really special relationships friendships had a lifespan. 

The other thing, apart from pen-pals (and sometimes these form lasting friendships - but usually only if you met up) you always had met your friends.

Welcome to the 21st Century. You never need lose touch with anybody ever again. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the rest... friends are everywhere. And not just people you've know for years and met IRL (as they used to say back in the babyhood of the internet; that's In Real Life). I have some great friends on Twitter and Facebook who I've never met. Many of these I know  because we share something in common; things as diverse as the part of London we live in, to a love of cats, to an obsession with a sports team, to being diagnosed with a debilitating illness.

I've not known these friends as long as my school friends, or friends I met through work or at University (or indeed my family) and our connections may not be as deep. They are no less friends though.

This was brought home to me over Christmas when one of my Twitter friends vanished. A great tweeter and I didn't hear from her for over a month. I was worried... like me she has an auto-immune disease and as far as my imagination was concerned anything could have happened.

Unlike Facebook and LinkedIn where people go by their full names on Twitter you just have a handle and don't even have to give your real name (I don't). This means my friend was lost to me. 

Happily she resurfaced, she hadn't been well (as suspected). These on-line friendships form communities though... and whilst looking for my lost friend I bumped into another concerned friend of hers and so I made a new friend.

Maybe not everyone views on-line friendships like this? Ask anyone, I'm addicted to Twitter (and less so Facebook).

It has to be said though, the increasing (and instant) inter-connectedness of seemingly just about everything fascinates me very much.