Meesha left this comment for me on Facebook: "I don't even know 247 people, even if I include the mailman and the guy who plows my driveway." (I trimmed it to 245 this morning.)
That got me thinking (a rare and dangerous occurrence, to be sure). Just how many of those two hundred forty-seven Facebook friends of mine do I really know, and why are they listed as my friends?
Let's break it down.
Of course, there are the relatives, both mine and Cliff's.
Then there are former co-workers.
Some are people I've known from Church.
Some are local acquaintances and neighbors.
I have a few friends of grandchildren on the list; if my oldest grandchildren won't come to Facebook, I'll watch their friends!
There are also people listed who went to school with my children.
All of these, I know (or knew) in real life.
I started blogging on AOL journals, and got to "know" a lot of my fellow J-Land buddies by reading about their lives. I've seen some lose a spouse; I've read about babies being born. I've seen romance blossom, then wither. All of that in J-land. Who needs soap operas? This is the real thing, baby!
AOL closed the door on journals and many people moved to Blogger; I had already been here for over a year, and had found new friends before I was joined by the J-land refugees. I found a list of Kansas City bloggers and added some of them to my "must-read" list.
I used to frequent three message boards ; I only keep up with one now, and that would be Tractor Tales. But there are people I've chatted with on all three with whom I still keep in touch.
I haven't met very many of these in real life, but many of them I've "known" for years on the 'Net.
And last is the group from the old AOL Christian chat room. They are Internet friends, but I've probably met at least 3/4 of them in person over the years. So they're real-life friends, too. Some of them would be right here if I needed them, believe it... even if they had to fly across the country. Now that I think of it, some of them are my best friends, reliable and true.
Oh, there's a handful of "friends of friends" who needed more neighbors in Farmville or Yoville and were added to my list; but those are few.
Now what's strange about this is that I don't have a lot of friends in real life. I was an only child for all intents and purposes, since my sister was married and gone when I was two years old. We lived in rural settings until I was twelve, and I learned to live in my mind and populate the world around me with imaginary people, animals and situations. I know there were relatives who felt sorry for me, not having any siblings to grow up with; but I can honestly say I was happy with my imaginings. To this day, I just don't need people around me the way most folks do; I have no problem with that, so don't pity me.
But on the Internet? I'll take all the friends I can get!