#MondayBlogs – Can I Get A Friend?

15 Sep

I didn’t contribute to the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge last month. I just couldn’t get my fingers moving to type out a treatise on “friend” – the theme. I thought that it would be too random, way too serious, and therefore fail to earn me any love from the voting community. Having been rejected several times already, I couldn’t risk the humiliation. And, it has nothing to do with a lack thereof – friends, that is. I am surrounded with some of the best friends a person could have. But, here’s the thing. I struggled with the word. See, how it works with bloggers like me is that to figure out what to write on a theme, I start with a little word association game. And I discovered that friend, as a word, has seemingly morphed into something…………..different. And I’m not sure that I like it. It’s a function, I think, of language’s constant evolution and social media’s impact. Here’s what I mean.

There are words that just so capture what they mean to you when you say them. For some that might be complex like ‘right’ or ‘left’. For others it might be something as simple as ‘green’ or as powerful as ‘hate’.

Well, that word for me is ‘friend’. There is only one meaning. Growing up, I knew exactly what a ‘friend’ was; what we’d do for each other and how much we meant to each other. Not only that, I knew all my friends. It’s not just that I knew their names or their profile (the essential deets – those having asterisks beside the text box). But, I knew the names of their siblings, their parents’ names and what those parents did for a living, and (when such things mattered to a young man) what cars their dads drove. I knew who they wanted to date, who they wanted to dump, and if they (or I) was buying the beer that weekend. And, yes I had a friend who seemed to never buy the beer. Didn’t we all? But he was a friend. I liked my friends a lot. Trusted them. People say, “In bad times, you learn who your real friends are”. Well, I’ve had some pretty dark times and I knew who my real friends were going in and they were the same ones I had coming out. I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know. I guess by now you get it – I really knew the people that I called ‘friends’. And, channeling Sally Fields, I really, really loved them. And nothing’s really changed in the intervening years, I still do – know them and love them.

friendship1Years ago as Facebook took off, I expounded obnoxiously. “Why do I care to “connect” (visualize me a la Dr.Evil using hand signals for parentheses) with people using Facebook that I don’t care to connect with in my real life?” You can see that I can assume an insufferable attitude, really. Not my best feature. But, and here’s the rub, Facebookists, Facebookers , or whatever the term you use for the buggers, had hundreds of friends. What? I’ll say that again – they had hundreds of friends! While poor Bill had eight to ten. OK, ten is a bit of a stretch. Hundreds of friends? How can that be? Unless ‘friends’ were no longer really friends, that is. My word ‘friends’ got high jacked to serve another master. Other words have been similarly repurposed. ‘Like’ has a new meaning – it happens, liking that is, when you click on an icon. That’s it. I do it all the time – I like stuff on-line. I truly like it but not in the same vein as someone going to the Kellogg’s website and liking them, whoever them is, so as to, perchance, win a trip to DisneyWorld. That ain’t a true ‘like’.

Then there’s the word, ‘influence’. Recently in the social media circles I travel in, there was a serious spat about whether a certain social media entity could be on a list that spoke to the influence certain other social media entities had in the wine social media world (stop and take a breath) as defined and measured by services that supposedly measure influence. Confused? I was too. It was like Dale Carnegie was on acid and trapped in cyberspace. It caused a little binge drinking in the wine blogging community. OK, maybe only in my little corner thereof and in Oz. And I know what you’re thinking. It doesn’t take much at my place. But, what it illustrated to me was that we haven’t quite found social media’s place in our intimate and personal world. The world where DuffsWines is Bill, not a social media entity. The world that matters and uses such words as influence, friend, follow, like. A world where those words are personal not virtual. At least, I haven’t. How Twitter and WordPress, for instance, play in my head, heart, and day-to-day life. I realize that people are working on it – somewhere there’s a strategy being developed to turn my social media Brand Awareness into buying Depends. But, that’s not what I mean. Now, before I dig a bigger hole with the above-mentioned influence listees, let me say that many people and services that made this list are influential to me. And, I don’t doubt to others. They really are, as per my personal definition of influence. I read them, trust them, believe them, and am comfortable acting on their recommendations and suggestions. It’s not the idea of a list that I’m talking about but the use of an algorithm to measure influence in the absence of ‘real’. It’s drone science and not something to squabble over. To my 17 followers, “No I did not make the list”.

For me, it isn’t quite ‘real’ yet – social media that is. Attempts to substitute it for the personal world or elevate it to matter to us all are a bit premature, I think. For example, having news segments like, “Let’s see what’s trending on Twitter” is just lazy 24-7 journalism. It’s like eavesdropping on me leaning over my fence and shooting the shit with my neighbour. It doesn’t matter to anyone but me and him. It’s not news. Please stop scrolling Twitter feeds masquerading as content!

How I’d suggest we deal with this at this point in time is to Stay Calm and Use a Little Restraint (T-shirts available). Have fun with it. This will all work itself out – this social media meeting real world expectations, accepted nomenclature, and the human condition. We are not there yet. At least, I don’t think we are. But, there will soon be an app. Cue: Scarlett Johansson.

For my part, I follow, comment, interact, and share within social media regularly in such a positive way for me that I ‘like’ these people with whom I exchange stuff. I like ’em a lot. But, to remain theoretically consistent with the above, I cannot call them ‘friends’. Not until we meet at the Wine Bloggers Conference next year in the Finger Lakes. And, then after sharing some real time drinking wine, getting to know each other, talking wine, and drinking some more wine, we’ll become BFF’s, I’m hoping. Which in my paradigm of friendship means that I can call them regularly late at night with little regard for time zones, borrow money from them during my weekly rough patch, stay in their apartment if I’m stuck, and, most importantly quaff those bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche that they have in their cellar. Screw Facebook, that’s the kind of friends I’m talking about, baby!

Now that wasn’t too random and serious, was it?

5 Responses to “#MondayBlogs – Can I Get A Friend?”

  1. Diane Thrasher September 15, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    Love it!

    Also “like” James Taylor and his music…..a whole bunch!

    Diane

    ________________________________

  2. Ken September 15, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Outstanding as always Bill. If you are not my friend then, by your own definition (and my dad was a life long steam-fitter and his 67 Ford was my favourite) then you are certainly a good acquaintance with benefits. And oh, I did meet a new friend to share my cellar with, and she is the one.

    • Duff's Wines September 15, 2014 at 9:31 am #

      Sharing is always good. Thanks for dropping by, Ken.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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