I complained about my lack of friends to Jackie (who IS actually a friend). I wondered how never got invited to things. I wanted to know how come everyone else had a book club. I (the person I know who reads the most) read alone.
“I don’t have a book club but you can come to our girls night poker game, if you want.”
“What does it involve?”
“Once a month a group of friends meet in the evening. We drink loads of wine, bitch about our spouses and sometimes we play poker. Its fun.”
It was a brilliant idea except:
– It happens at night
– I don’t really like wine
– I do like my spouse. I know that having bitched about him I would mooch around the house with a guilt hangover for days
– I don’t know how to play poker.
– It involved spending time with people
So no, wasn’t such a brilliant idea after-all.
“Maybe you don’t have friends because you don’t want friends?” She said.
For as long as I can remember there has been a tension between wanting desperately to be part of the gang and then finding that (the moment I am invited) the allure is gone. Whether by chance or on purpose friends have gone left, whilst I have gone right. And whilst the intelligentsia have decried the loss of real, deep friendships caused by social media my romance with Facebook has been passionate and loyal. Why? Because I can see what my “friends” are doing, I have felt their their joy and their pain as they walk through life and all without having to actually do any face to face interacting.
Recently though, my Facebook relationship has come under fire. Not, as I expected, from any disagreement or spat – after all when Facebook friends get too much or hang on to views that I find odious (strangely its the small things like their position on littering tourists rather than world politics) I can quietly stop following them. No acrimony, no facing them down. Simply unfollowing them as friends for a bit. No. The challenge has come from a new quarter: Instagram.
Where my Facebook time is usually with friends who I actually know (in real life) my Instagram feed is populated with common interests. Astonishingly (for me) the world is filled with people who also like to share photographs of their vegetable gardens; who swell with joyous pride over their first carrots or who worry with me through the night over what could be eating their kale. I don’t even know the names of most of the people I follow – just their handles. From their bios I can see that many of these people hold political, spiritual and world views diametrically opposed to my own and yet we share this common love. And yet we have a common love of growing edibles.
For the first time I find myself moving with the group – they suggest diatomaceous earth, I try it. They suggest neem oil on the citrus, I’m spraying it before they’ve finished typing. Suddenly, unexpectedly I find myself not just in the group but happily in the group. If friendship is defined as mutual affection, shared interests, loyalty, someone who will take up your interests…if all this is friendship could it be that in amongst the cucumber, carrot, lettuce and tomato seeds I have also sown the seeds of friendship?