Anne Hogan is a social media manager who spends far too much time tweeting at @Anne_Hogan. She also blog at www.annehogan.net and has two adorable rescued pets, a Pomeranian named Teddy and a tortishell cat named Jenna.
I’m excited to be here today to “Pour My Heart Out” on a topic that I’ve been thinking of a lot lately: long distance friendships. Personally, my long distance friendships fall into two categories, old friends I’ve moved away from, or social media friends I’ve never lived close to.
When I was younger, my friends and I assumed that our lives would be like Friends; we’d all live within fifty feet of each other and spend every waking moment together. It would be amazing, and we would be so. cool. Then we grew up and realized that real life isn’t like TV life.
I consider myself lucky to have a group of best friends I’ve known for almost twenty years. We grew up together, went to school together, and we’ve been in each other’s weddings; we’re more like family than friends and we talk multiple times every day. Since all of us hate the phone, Facebook group messages are a lifesaver and a lifeline for us. I live in Southern California, one of my friends lives near Philadelphia, and two others live in Florida. While it’s nice that technology makes it easy for us all to stay in constant contact and share random thoughts and BuzzFeed links throughout the day, there are times that I would give anything to get an in person hug from one of them, or sit on the couch and watch stupid television together instead of just texting about it while we watch from our own homes. We try to get together as often as we can, but being so far flung it’s hard, especially with all of our pesky careers and things. I love these women like the sisters I never had, and I would never trade them for next door neighbor friends, but it doesn’t mean I don’t hate how far away we all are.
Then there’s another group of long distance friends, the ones I’ve never lived close to, maybe I’ve never even met in person at all, the social media friends. Even before I started working in social media, I had “internet friends”. One of my best friends is a woman I met on a message board almost ten years ago. We talk every day, we know everything about each other’s lives, and yet we’ve never been to each other’s homes. We’ve never even met face-to-face, despite millions of emails, texts, Facebook messages, and even a few phone calls. We exchange Christmas gifts, worry about each other’s families, and share in triumphs. Sometimes I think we’re better friends because of the distance, not in spite of it. With long distance friends you have to put in the effort, they’re not just convenience friends. You know the ones, the people you see so often that you’ve forged friendships, but if you added some distance and effort, you would most likely drift apart. Long distance friends are always worth the effort, which can make them even closer than friends who live next door.
Long distance friendships are each unique, but they each share the special blend of heartwarming and heartbreaking. While you wouldn’t trade the comfort you get from long distance friends, there’s also an element of childish foot stomping. It’s just not fair. Why can’t it be like TV? Why can’t we trade text messages for coffee dates? Although, the bittersweet nature of long distance friendships means that when you do get to see your friends in person, you hug them a little tighter, listen a little more carefully, and never take their presence for granted. So I suppose that’s the tradeoff, you have to deal with the pain of not always getting a hug when you need one, but in return your friendships are strengthened and more appreciated.