On vacation with D & E, two of my best friends
"Have you voted for me online?" a friend asked me yesterday, as I was entering the bathroom at church. "Uh...you haven't sent me the link," I responded. "We're not facebook friends?" she asked, shocked. "Well, I'll friend you and send you the link."
She walked out of the bathroom, and I didn't bother to tell her that she wouldn't be able to find me on facebook due to my privacy settings. I wasn’t forthcoming because I’m not too excited to get her link. It's not because I don't like her, and it's not because I don't think that her video would be vote-worthy. The truth is that she's the fourth person to ask me to vote for them in their quest to host their own show on Oprah Winfrey's new TV network, O.W.N.
Her request, although benign, highlighted the dilemma I feel.
What if she isn't the best? Do I vote for her simply because she's my friend? Or, do I vote for all four of them, distributing my votes equally? But if I do that, then doesn't that pretty much nullify my votes for each of them? Besides, there are thousands of people competing. Will my few votes (and I'm pretty sure that I won't vote more than a few times) even make that big of a difference?
My brain gets tired trying to figure it out, and she's someone that I don't even know that well! I'm not even sure if I know her last name, although I think it has two syllables and starts with a "W."
Recently, I've faced this same quandary with my closest friends as they have begun new ventures. One friend started a small business selling granola. Two others started working with discount travel companies. (You know the one where your friend is now a travel agent who can get you discounted travel.) Other friends have started offering photography services and the like.
These friends have asked me to "like" their businesses, vote for their videos online, and even partner with them in their business ventures.
Sometimes, I have been willing to give a thumbs up on facebook or even vote once (or multiple times). But other times I have felt cornered - like my commitment to them rested on my voting for them, or buying their product. I've started to think that today, friendships aren't about spending time together or calling each other to share about a date or to dish out advice. They're about showing online support. They're about votes, and likes, and tweets, and facebook suggestions. And the truth is that I don't think I like it very much.
I've always felt that my friends were like desserts - sweet treats that I looked forward to at the end of a long day or week. They were the one group of people that I got to
to be with. They weren't the family that I was born into, and they weren't the co-workers whom I had to work with everyday. It was a mutually fun, beneficial relationship. But now, I'm feeling that cyberspace is putting an invisible, high-tech wedge between us.
Now, I care about my friends. And because I care about them, I will naturally want to find out more about their adventures and projects. But, I just may not like them (the projects) enough to want to participate by voting, liking, texting ten friends, or whatever is being asked of me.
If I choose to opt out of participating, choosing not to be best buds with them in cyberspace, I hope that they will know that in real life, I am still their friend. Hopefully they will interpret my regular phone calls and birthday cards (not e-cards) as testaments to that fact.