Tag Archives: friendship

Deliverables R Us

Ah, Facebook. Relational crucible of the 21st century.

freak out

freak out

Have you read about Julia Angwin, the woman who’s unfriending all of her friends on Facebook? She’s an accomplished journalist, author, and privacy expert who figured out what we all knew already: social media affords very little privacy. She’s created a micro-movement of readers who are kicking their Facebook friends to the curb. Really.

Then I read a post from a woman who disabled her account because she felt her time on Facebook was an indulgent, unhealthy grasp for the approval of others. Now tell us something we don’t know.

Of course who can forget evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar’s assertion that human beings cannot cognitively maintain more than 150 meaningful relationships? As if the nuances of friendship, emotion, and memory are static, quantifiable commodities. Your friend quota is capped at 150—and not one more! Dunbar isn’t on Facebook, by the way.

I’ve been on Facebook for 26 months. Usually it’s fun and silly, not to be taken too seriously. It’s a good place to keep in touch with people and share what I write. As with all things internet, if it’s private, you don’t post it.

Change is the only constant on the social network. 

You’ll remember my unhappiness with the bait-and-switch maneuver played out on Facebook fan pages this past fall. Well, just last week, I stumbled upon the mother lode. A dumping ground in my Facebook Messages called the “Other” box. Comes with a pay-to-stalk offer.

Theoretically, I assume everyone on Facebook has an “Other” box. You can check next time you’re on Facebook. Click on your Messages tab. To the right of the word “Inbox,” you should see it. “Other.” Is it there? Are messages in it? Mine was populated with freaky messages from strange men I don’t know who wanted to be my “friend.”

Here’s how it works: let’s say someone wants to send you a message on Facebook, but they’re not your Facebook friend. No problem. Rather than sending you a friend request, Facebook allows them to send you a message anyway—to your “Other” box.

medium_3276076410

change is the only constant, photo credit: celeste343

Now if that person who you don’t know wants to send you a message but doesn’t want it to go to the no-man’s land of the “Other” box, Facebook offers a salacious solution. For $1 Facebook will bypass the “Other” box and deliver their message directly into your “Inbox.” So, along with kind, harmless messages from your Aunt Sally, your kindergarten BFF, and your child’s piano teacher, you may see messages from strangers who paid $1 to stalk for access to you.

A single dollar. One hundred pennies. Small change for perverts, stalkers, and bullies bent on terrorizing the common folk.

Facebook, what are you thinking?!

I’m making a lot of assumptions here. But Facebook, in grand Facebook fashion, insists on making adjustments, tweaks, and monumental changes without much consideration for their users, so assumptions are all I have. My husband made the wisest assumption of all.

“Aimee, Facebook doesn’t see us as users or customers,” he said. “For Facebook, we’re deliverables.”

He’s smart, that guy. But he rarely follows my status updates. Figures he knows what’s going on with me already. So at lunch this past Sunday, I’m explaining the “Other” box to him and my son and how there are some people Mom doesn’t want to befriend.

“Here’s what the people in my ‘Other’ box are like,” I said, summoning my scariest, most gravelly voice. “‘Hey! I wanna be your friend!‘ And I’m like, ‘Hey! I don’t even know you!‘”

My son and my husband laughed at my theatrics in the middle of the Chinese restaurant. We role-played, taking turns being the scary “Other” people with the funny voices and the unsuspecting deliverables left to fend them off.

The bill and fortune cookies came too soon. Our table erupted as I read mine.

fortune cookie

The time is right to make new friends.

Hey, Facebook, ever hear of MySpace?

Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin. Proverbs 18:24 NRSV

The Stranger by Billy Joel.

Do you use social networks like Facebook? How do you protect yourself?

photo credit: celeste343 via photopin cc

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Reader’s Choice ’12: The Politics of Friendship

Eric Bostic may very well take over the city of Charlotte one day.

Eric Bostic

Eric Bostic (right) with his brothers Malcolm and Derek

I went to school with Eric. One thing I remember about him is that he always—always—had a beautiful, friendly smile on his face. Still does to this day.

Eric owns a merchant services company and his wife recently opened a medical supply business. Before that, Eric served as a Ranger and Green Beret. He knows the cost of freedom firsthand. He recognizes how important it is for a self-governed people to express their viewpoints. 

Eric’s Reader’s Choice is:

 The Politics of Friendship

seesaw

click to read The Politics of Friendship

readers choice

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Dare to Hope

I love Christmas. Really, I do.

pink poinsettias

it’s beginning to look a lot like…

I love that our culture still reserves a time to celebrate Jesus’ birth. But the churning of the holiday season is a mixed bag for me, and I’m not the only one.

After I published the bah-humbug-ish post Saving Duck this past Tuesday, my best friend, my closest cousin, and my brother all contacted me within a three-hour period. These people are more dear than I deserve, so their concern could be a coincidence. Just in case, I thought I better clarify.

First, I’m okay. You’re okay. God willing, we’ll all make it through.

Second, this is not a retraction of my thoughts from my last post. The unrealistic expectations of a perfect Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year’s are destructive. They steal our joie de vivre and drain our bank accounts. We question our faith and our sanity.

Now I know there are a few of you who would prefer I only write about shiny, happy things. I appreciate that, and I wish I could meet your demands.

But I can’t.

It’s not my intention to be a negative Nelly. I do write about fun stuff as well from misread song lyrics to missing underwire, from discontinued lipstick to dismissed hair accessories. But to me, it wouldn’t be honest or helpful to present as if everything is sunshine and roses (or pink poinsettias) when it’s not.

Yesterday I hung out with some Christian girlfriends. One caught my attention when she said, “I don’t really like this season. I mean I like Christmas, I just don’t care for all that goes with it.”

Her courage struck a chord. One by one, every woman recounted personal stories of how painful the holidays can be. My December dread didn’t seem so abnormal after all.

The wisest of all the women shared a story from when her kids were younger. She and her husband piled their little ones in the car and drove across three states to visit a relative for Thanksgiving. The trip wasn’t a surprise visit; the relative knew they were coming. Imagine their shock to arrive just in time to stand in the driveway and wave good-bye.  Grandma had made other plans to go out with friends for Thanksgiving dinner instead.

chocolate turkeys

don’t be a turkey

“We laugh about it now,” said my friend. “We joke and say, ‘Remember when Grandma left us on Thanksgiving?’ But at the time, it wasn’t funny.”

This is in part why we need other people in our lives. It’s why we need to tell each other the truth. It’s why some of us write and read and comment. How good to know we’re not alone. Others have walked this road or on it with us now. Many have survived. Maybe we will, too.

Walk on, pilgrims. Walk on.

Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease. Lamentations 3:21-22 NLT

He Walked a Mile by Clay Crosse. An oldie but a goodie.

Do you still dare to hope? Tell me more.

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The Politics of Friendship

It’s mid-October. The leaves are changing. The frost is on the pumpkin. And Americans are sick of politics. 

seesaw

seesaw

That’s understandable. We’re in the heat of a presidential election. The airwaves are filled with negative ads. Conflict permeates the country.

Within this microcosm of months leading up to the 2012 election, I co-founded a public forum to discuss the issues with Lisen Stromberg, a writer who usually disagrees with me. Am I a pundit? Hardly.

I’m just an American citizen who discovered she, like every other American citizen, has a voice with which to speak about issues that matter to her.

Notice I didn’t say I discovered my opinions. I wrote about controversial topics like Food, Inc., Roe v. Wade, and Chick-fil-A before the election stage was set. My views have been formed by my beliefs, experiences, and observations. Same as yours have been. I simply began to voice my views more formally and in good faith that civil discourse would rule the day.

My sharing has been met with applause in some camps and disdain in others. There have been retweets and hate tweets. I’ve been unfriended and blocked. I’ve picked up a subscriber or two along the way.

Funny thing is, all this posting and dialoguing takes place outside the context of real life.

My closest friends see me as a person, not a 600-word opinion. We don’t hold identical beliefs. Do I love them any less? Of course not. What kind of friend would I be if I did? Two of my best friends don’t even read my blogs. Another nearly stopped reading once she realized we see things oh-so differently.

These women humble me and keep me real.

Perhaps I am the neighbor who offered a coat and waited with her for the fire truck when her preschoolers locked her out of the house in the snow. I am the postpartum disaster who fell asleep on her living room couch while she rocked my infant son. I am the wardrobe coach who commandeered the dressing room as we shopped for clothes for her to wear when she returned to work. Or the lady who lunched beside her and spoke freely of losing loved ones to disease. Or the nomad who lost her spaghetti colander in the move.

At the end of the day, at then end of the election, regardless of who wins or loses the White House, we will all be left with each other. Does that mean we stop voicing our opinions? Stop talking about issues in order to preserve the peace?

My late friend Alex would say yes. Why let politics get in the way of friendship?

Silence is certainly a strategy. But as my husband told me, your friends love you for who you are. You are free to speak with respect and without fear in their presence and they in yours.

They love you none the less.

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. Proverbs 17:17 NLT

One Thing Remains by Kristian Stanfill. Reminds me of true unfailing love.

Is it better not to speak to preserve the peace or to speak trusting your friendships will hold fast?

 

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Missing Alex

Was reminded this week of one of the many reasons why need each other and the blessing of friendship.

dillon’s daffodil

Friends speak truth into my life. Truth that may be obvious to everyone except me. Truth that frees me indeed.

Alex was that kind of friend. I remember the first time I saw him in my old neighborhood. A cheerful, elderly gentleman walking his dog Bo.

He reached out. Always had time to speak and to care. Left anyone he met along the way with a kind, “God bless!”

Alex refused to talk politics or religion with me. The fall we met nearly 10 years ago, I was knee-deep in a rigorous study of the Old Testament history of Israel. Alex was Jewish, and I was dying to dish with him. But he wouldn’t have it. Didn’t want anything to risk a rift between neighbors.

Fast forward to the next fall. After years of infertility, my husband and I were thrilled by the birth of our son. Then colic put a quick damper on our joy for the beginning months.

By spring, the colic was over and all was well again. I was out with the baby one day when Alex came by with Bo. He stopped and talked with me in my yard among the daffodils and hyacinths.

I told him about the discouraging experience of dealing with a colicky baby. How my son cried and cried. How there was no way to comfort him. How I felt like a bad mom.

“It’s sad for you after waiting so long for a child,” said Alex, “to lose the first months with him to colic.” His wise eyes soft with empathy.

No one had said that to me until then, at least not in a way I could hear it. No one had tapped into the emotion of the experience and spoken the truth of it. Colic is sad, even devastating. For the baby, yes. But also for the parents. Also for me.

The content and care of his words was powerful. Alex called out what happened. Gave me permission to feel the pain. Freed me to move on.

Other friends—new and old, close and far—have done this throughout the years and even this week in matters big and small. Probably without realizing it.

Out of nowhere comes that lightning bolt sentence. That straight shot of truth.

It was legalism. You were hurt in ministry by legalism.

Look at the color! It’s perfect! I love that cranberry.

I cannot imagine losing my mother at 25 (or ever).

Alex died the April following my son’s first birthday. I still miss him, especially as spring approaches. How could I not miss my friend?

There are “friends” who destroy each other,
but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 NLT

If you do nothing else today, listen to this song. Then go hug a friend. Or send them a link to this post. Click to hear Sara Groves, Every Minute.

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Cranberry Mary

We finally gave in and purchased a second vehicle for me to drive.

cranberries, crystal & concrete

Did our research, saved our down payment, visited the dealership. Decided to buy the exact same make and model SUV we had before.

Newer year though. More bells and whistles. Like talking navigation and backup sensors to help me avoid kissing the guide poles at the drive-up ATM.

Even wanted the same color we had before. But Galaxy Gray wasn’t available.

If we waited, we’d miss the financing deal. And we’d continue sharing the truck.

“Isn’t there another color your wife would like?” the salesman asked my husband.

“Okay,” I said deflated. “White Diamond.”

I’ve only, always chosen neutral-colored cars. Black, white, gray. The maroon and gold Camaro was my dad’s idea and the Sahara gold truck was my husband’s.

“Or Dark Cherry is nice.”

The dealer couldn’t find White Diamond, but did acquire Dark Cherry. A red car. Maybe I could do this.

The day came. Dark Cherry arrived. “You’ll fall in love with it!” said the salesman.

I saw it. One word: burgundy.

“It looks burgundy,” I said.

“No, no,” said the salesman. “It’s red.”

“Yeah, I guess it’s more red than brown,” I said. “But it’s not true red.”

“Oh, that’s just dirt,” he said. “Let me have it washed and you’ll see it’s red.”

While we waited, I discussed the dilemma with my husband.

blue undertones

“You know I’m a Winter. Brownish-red is not my color. I would really feel more at home in gray.”

“Honey, Dark Cherry is your color,” said my husband. “It isn’t brown. It has blue undertones.”

I wanted a car. I didn’t want burgundy. Maybe it wasn’t burgundy. But it wasn’t red either.

“See?” said the salesman. “It’s red!”

Freshly-washed Dark Cherry glistened in the sunlight, casting out any hints of brown.

This is silly, I thought to myself. Grow up and be content with Dark Cherry. So I did.

Still, the whole color thing ate at me. Had I compromised too much? Gone along to get along? The stars were aligned: I was there, my husband was there, the car was there. How could I walk away?

In other news, one of my BFFs gave birth to her third child. She’d entered no man’s land—the first weeks of an infant’s life when you take care of baby and not much else.

Armed with my package wrapped in pink gingham, I drove to her house to deliver the gift. She cradled the baby while we caught up.

“And you got a car,” she said as she peeked out the window. “Look at the color!”

life is a bowl of cranberries

“Yeah,” I said. “I wanted gray but they didn’t have it.”

“It’s perfect,” she said. “I love that Cranberry.”

Yet another reason why she’s my BFF. How I’ll miss her when we move.

Hadn’t mentioned my angst over the intricacies of brown, burgundy and true red. Didn’t matter.

She saw the best and called it out. Named it. Reframed it. No more neutrals for me.

Now I’m quite taken with Cranberry. Decided to call her Mary. She has a bike rack for Cindy so the girls can be friends.

Cranberry Mary Momma Mobile. Watch out. Here she comes.

Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given.
Proverbs 25:11 NIV

Linger awhile longer and enjoy The Cranberries with me. Anyone else think it’s ironic a group called The Cranberries filmed a music video in black and white?

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Homegirls and BFFs

me & Keno

So I’m in the J Crew dressing room one Saturday, trying on their latest confection. Outside I hear, “Kalie, you in here? It’s Christy, your BFF.”

Kalie and her BFF Christy were promptly reunited. How sweet. Meanwhile in my little stall, I was coming undone.

“Where is my BFF? Why can’t I have a BFF?” I said to myself. “I need a BFF to find me another size and bring me more cute stuff to try on and tell me how good it looks. All I have is…is…is Keno the salesperson!…(whimper)…”

Now I love me some Keno. And I love me some Desiree, Mary, Michael, and the rest of the très chic staff at my local J Crew store. I only learned what BFF means a few months ago when I joined Facebook. Didn’t realize it was the need of the moment until then.

me & K

Truth is I have plenty of BFFs, thank you very much, Kalie and Christy. I don’t limit myself either. There’s enough love to go around.

That particular Saturday, one of my BFFs was at a first grade basketball game, another at a Girl Scout cookie meeting, another busy at work in her home office. Beautiful and responsible, those girls.

Half a dozen or so of my BFFs from high school still live 750 miles away in the place we grew up. Like to think of them as the Homegirls. They make me laugh like no one else on earth can.

My college BFFs are dotted along I-40 in exotic locales like Raleigh, Winston-Salem and Asheville. Two more live on polar opposite coasts with me smack-dab in the middle of the heartland. These women knew me before I knew me.

There’s my Chicago BFF who now lives in Milwaukee. And my sassy St. Louis BFF who moved to Cincinnati last year. Miss them terribly.

Then there are my BFFs who are married to my husband’s best friends–each the epitomy of grace. The guys are swell, too.

me & A & B

Add to that my old church and work BFFs, my BSF BFFs (try saying that fast three times), my new BFFs I’m cultivating offline and online, and my fabulous lifelong BFFs who also happen to be related to me by blood or marriage.

Any of these women would have gone shopping with me that Saturday if it were possible. But life happens.

me & K

Husbands and significant others happen. Divorces happen. Jobs. Kids. Moves and miles. Before you know it, seeing each other becomes a special occasion.

Kalie and Christy, if you’re listening, enjoy your free Saturdays together. They won’t last forever. But your BFFs? They get sweeter with time.

Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble. Proverbs 17:17 The Message 

A little something for all the friends in the house. Go ahead, let your hair down

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