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Putting limits on friendship – for the sake of the friendship

I’ve seen something going round on Twitter, saying: “Twitter makes me love people I’ve never met and Facebook makes me hate people I know in real life.” I’m not sure I agree with the distinction, but I recognise a general principle here:

Seeing what some of your friends/family post online – whichever social networking/blogging platform it may be on – can sometimes put you off them, as you might discover sides of them you weren’t aware of, or sides of them that perhaps weren’t all that “in your face” before.

And on the other hand, you might see stuff posted by strangers and think: wow, that’s really cool! And thus some great online friendships are born. (Though of course there is always the possibility that as you get to know these people better, you might find there’s stuff about them that you don’t like so much… humans being humans, that’s pretty likely. :))

The tricky bit is the first side of the equation: people we know out there, whether it’s from work, church, social activities, family connections, etc etc – if they read my posts and “go off me”, that’s quite a risk. It could be really awkward when I next bump into them.

Where am I going with this? I’m not quite sure. Something to the effect that there may be situations where it would actually be better not to invite so-and-so to read my blogs, not to add that-person as a friend on a social networking site – better because being exposed to each other’s posts may put too heavy a burden on our friendship. Just because I like a person, that doesn’t mean we have to be in each other’s pockets all the time. Just because I get on reasonably well with someone, it doesn’t mean that we would get on well in each and every type of situation.

The Bible tells me to aim to be at peace with everyone as far as possible – I think sometimes laying down a boundary can actually be helpful for the keeping of peace with someone. There is a relative of mine who blogs and whenever I’ve tried to comment and enter into a discussion with this person I’ve found we get absolutely nowhere and I come away feeling like I’ve been bashing my head against the wall – so at some stage I just made the decision to stop reading that blog.

When I first started blogging, I was eager to invite everyone I know – the more the merrier, I thought. But in a way it’s a lot easier as a blogger to relate to strangers who comment on your posts – there’s less at stake. If a stranger leaves a totally inappropriate comment then it’s easy to just delete it and move on, but if this happens with someone whose friendship I value (and this includes online friends too) then I dither and agonise over it a lot more. Being a person who cares about relationships does make life a lot harder. 🙂

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5 responses to “Putting limits on friendship – for the sake of the friendship

  1. There’s a blog that I used to love to read. It touched upon several areas that I was really interested in. At first I was a bit frustrated by the fact that there were seldom conversations that started from the blog posts. People would pretty much reply, “Thanks for this” or something lame like that. But I figured that I’ve just been spoiled by being on Multiply. But after awhile I started to realize that my agreements, disagreements, and supporting examples that I added to the comments section weren’t even appreciated and were sometimes spurned. I found that rather off-putting. There was a general sense of, “You’re too old to understand what I’m trying to get at here.” … That’s when I stopped reading that blog. It really saddened me because I’d been so excited about it when I first came across it. It’s not often that I find someone that posts on almost all the things I’m interested in. It was a great fit… until I opened my mouth.

    Bleh.

    • oh, how sad 😦
      joining you in the Bleh.

    • This reminds me of some blogs I’ve come across where I commented but was totally ignored and got the impression that these people were actually only interested in comments from their friends, I came away feeling like I wasn’t welcome in the conversation. I kind of think: if you don’t want comments from strangers, then why set up a public blog?

  2. Hmmm, by the way, I’m kinda realizing that I kinda followed the “you don’t have to invite everyone to read your blog” tangent and I didn’t speak to the point of the post… which I agree with.

    Some friends are walking friends, some are troubled-times friends, some are great discussion friends, but it’s rare that I have a friend that I can share everything with. It just doesn’t work. We’re not interested in all the same stuff, and we don’t jive in some areas despite jiving well in others. It’s just how things are. I think it’s better to acknowledge that than to dance around it pretending it’s not there. But for most folks, I think it’s just something they don’t think about.

    • yes, that’s it – there is a natural compartmentalising of friendships that normally happens without anyone thinking about it or having to talk about it. but now and again there’s a situation where it needs to be acknowledged, and hopefully both parties would be mature enough to understand.

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