author C.C.Cole's blog

Sunday, September 2, 2012

On the Value of Virtual Friends

Virtual friend Author William Butler

As we move along with the evolution of social networking, we continue to make “friends” or “followers” in mostly Facebook and Twitter.  The negativity seems endless by the media, how it wastes time, how it perpetuates shallow social unreal interaction, the either illegal, tragic, or large-scale violent consequences when used amongst large populations.  But we still use social media, and interact with our virtual friends.  Does that matter to us?

As an adult, I think about the real friendships I’ve made through the years, and the ones still lasting today.  My close real time circle of friends is quite small; probably a combination of being an introvert, a non-conformist, and a married professional, beholding to the bare truth that a wife’s friends link to the husband’s more than vice-versa.  That may not be true in every relationship, and in my marriage I don’t consider it a negative, only a truth.  Men marry and continue their lives with families, sports, and talk about old times over beer.  Women marry with their lives encompassed with their children, and for the childless married woman, like myself, in the closest friendship there’s not much in common in everyday life. 

I’ve written before about how a few wonderful ladies introduced me to social networking.  From the beginning, I’m still meeting great people virtually.  Of course in virtual friendship, we see whatever the person wants us to see.  But that’s part of the deal, taking the good with the bad.  As a new author, I’ve found some of my virtual friends to be my biggest cheerleaders in my writing journey, and they give me encouragement during the tough times.  I’m happy to do the same for them.  Why not?  That’s what’s good about technology; maybe we can make someone smile sometimes.  In reality, that level of giving is wonderful, so why should it not apply virtually?  Sure, there is the negative spin, ugly book reviews, and political arguments, but that’s where we can shut out the virtual part.  Virtual enemies wearing a mask of friendship aren’t family bullies we have to endure because our parents force us.  We have a choice.

In the big scheme of things, I like my virtual friends.  Technology has a double edge, but there’s more good than bad.  Like others, of course my real life friends and family take precedence, as they should.  To me, that’s another definition entirely; virtual friendships are exactly that…virtual.  I’m glad to have them.

On Knocking the Chip Off My Shoulder

Princess Diana

Back in the 1990s, I was in the latter days of what I’ve referred to in past articles as my “vast hard science educational background.”  The 90s pulled every bit of strength I had every day, with difficult training, the loss of my sister, my family split apart, my husband in graduate school while working, financial difficulties, and I worked a demanding job while in school that encompassed nights and entire weekends.   In general, the 1990s were a lost decade for me. 

While working on a weekend, I tried to get an hour or two of sleep and just before I turned the television off, the news alert said, “Princess Diana had been severely injured in a automobile accident.”  I switched it off, struggling to get a bit of rest before the next day started with an unforgiving amount of workload and testing.  Failure was not in my rulebook when it came to my education and job.

I didn’t sleep well, but never did in those days.  I thought about Diana. During my one trip overseas to England was when she gave birth to Prince William, and did she look great the next day, after a night of labor!  She was always in the tabloids, with her failed marriage, her stunning dresses, I mean, how many crowns did she have?  She always looked so perfect.  Sometimes I’d see news clips or magazine covers of her visiting the poor or abused.  She seemed nice.  I thought if I met her, I would have liked her. 

Then my mind took a dark turn.  Would she have liked me?  Hmm…An American wearing the same clothes for three days.  Aristocracy isn’t a concept easy for Americans to take in, though it’s generally respected.  In America, many have to work hard to crash through the glass of poverty, and at that time, I was building my hammer.  Then I thought, the truth is, Diana is a Princess, and I am a nobody.  To her, I’m a nobody and my recently deceased sister is a nobody.  But she’s been in a car accident.  Who’s in the worst position?  I thought, “Nothing will happen to her.  She’s rich and the whole world will bend over backwards to help her.”  I fell asleep.

Morning came, and the person coming on to take my place exchanged the usual hellos.  Before I picked up my bag to leave she said, “And Princess Diana died.”  A cold chill swept through me.  What a fool I was!  A shallow, stupid idiot, low class, imbecile taking for granted that money shelters people from something as common and deadly as automobile accidents.  As a worker in the health care industry, I know all too well how many lives are claimed.  Angry with myself, I watched all of the televised features about Princess Diana, and my favorite was Elizabeth Taylor’s interview when she said, “They killed the world’s Princess.” 

On August 31, 1997, we did lose the world’s Princess.  She was classy, beautiful, compassionate, and yes, wealthy.  And after that day I grew up and knocked the class chip off my shoulder.  Everyone is a person, and life is fragile.  Bless the Princess.