A conversation about Facebook

I had a conversation with a friend the other day about why we both love Facebook. Not that I am much of a Facebook user -- I'm at best a dabbler, posting updates in little fits and starts. My friend is a much more reliable poster, bubbling up to the top of my wall regularly with remarks and updates on her daily life.

Now this friend and I would be friends no matter what, but we are separated by most of a continent and several time zones and have been for nearly a decade of divergent life. And that is true for a lot of the people I've had friendships with over the years, even very close friendships. It's just the way the world works now: my college was nowhere near my high school, my first job nowhere near my college, and so on.

Of course, the Internet is hardly new. And the phone before that. And the post office. We've all had the getting-back-in-touch-after-a-long-time experience with an old friend: the excited first note; the longer note after they respond; condensing the highlights into one life-revealing letter -- THIS is who I am and what I've been doing. How about you? Kids? Family? Career? Life? Tell me everything!

But then...

How many friendships really continue after that first exchange of letters? You're here and they're there and it's not that you don't still have whatever you had in common that made you friends before, it's just... too hard, somehow.

Because even really intimate friendships are mostly made up of thorougly non-intimate conversations. Maybe 95 percent ordinary to every 5 percent intimate. Maybe 99 percent -- maybe more. There's a whole lot more "this is the shit I put up with today" than anything else even when you're 'til death BFF's. Especially when.

But it's hard to send a note to the friend you haven't seen in ten years just to say, "guess what happened to me at the post office this morning?" Even though THAT kind of trivial shit is what the friendship needs to remain a real friendship.

Unless you're both on Facebook. 'Cause trivial shit is exactly what you are prompted to post on Facebook. And I say HOORAY.

I have Facebook friends I have not seen in even longer than I am willing to publicly admit. But I know what they did last Thursday, and if they are ever bored at 3pm in the afternoon. And as long as I remember to post enough to -- the term my friend and I decided on was "inoculate" (though I think that might have slightly more negative implications than we intend) -- the friendship on my end, then those people will actually BE my friends when someday I need them for one of those treasured intimate conversations.

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