Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Tech" friends vs. "Real" friends

Technology is an amazing thing. Each new development makes the world smaller. Radio, gave people a means to reach out to others, a way to share ideas. Radio operators on ships and in the armed forces would take the opportunities to "meet" friends and exchange news, play chess and share recipes.

15 years ago email was in its infancy. Computers were nowhere near as available as they are now. Cell phones were called "bricks" and we all clamored for them, we all were reaching out. User groups and forums were starting. The Internet was building momentum and "networking" was becoming vogue.

AOL and other applications were becoming more and more popular. People were, again, reaching out just as they did in every community they ever lived in. From villages and farmsteads, to townships and on up the food chain, people have always looked to their neighbors, looked beyond their boundaries. Technology has given us more and more opportunities to do so more conveniently than ever before.

Through Facebook and other networking sites (AOL, MySpace, Twitter, Linkd) people are finding it possible to connect, reconnect and create relationships with people from all over the world. Through one group I've been able to reunite with friends from the small town where I grew up, friends from school and even family members from all around the country.

With another forum I attend online, I've made friends literally around the world. It's a group of motorcycle riders that has become a virtual family. We reach out through pain and sorrow, through illness and death, and through life, through love and through happiness. This family, most of whom have never met face to face, has come together to help make repairs of homes, computers and bikes; come together when one was in a crash and nearly died, when one lost a spouse to cancer, and when some have lost pets.

One example is that when one of the group had a bike that was his only source of transportation stolen and didn't know what to do, we all came together and chipped in and bought him another bike. Not a new one, but one that was 100%. A motorcycle. A Goldwing motorcycle. Not all friends will do that. Not all family will do that.

The kids I went to high school with? We can't even seem to get together for lunch one day, let alone go out of our way to make a major difference in our lives. I drove from Layton to SLC to pick up a motorcycle part, then delivered it to Pocatello with a "thank you" as my reward. It was enough.

On another side, I have a twin sister and we went for about 16 years without speaking. No cards, no calls, no contact. Not a lot of friendship. I know that my family isn't typical, but neither are my friends.

Then again, with the changes in technology, maybe they are.

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