Friends and Acquaintances

I now have 500 friends. Facebook friends, that is. My life is complete. Of course, I thought that as soon as I had my first Facebook friend. When I signed up a couple years ago, I didn’t really know how to get the word out that I was on Facebook. Each morning, I would eagerly log in and read, “You have 0 friends.” Zero friends! Talk about harsh. My self-image sunk to a new depth. Finally, dear Kelly Mason found me and friended me. For the next week, the message that greeted me was, “You have 1 friend.” I didn’t realize how insecure I would feel to read, in black and white, that I am unpopular and unlikeable.

When I lived in Eastern Europe, I discovered a huge difference between my home and adopted continents. Americans tend to be voracious networkers, adding a lot of breadth to our growing number of "friends," most of whom would, more accurately, be considered acquaintances or colleagues by a European. In general, Europeans build more depth with a much smaller number of people, often considering us Americans to be shallow.

It seems those differences may be shrinking as the world is becoming smaller and more global. Many of my international friends have growing numbers of Facebook buddies now, just like us shallow Americans. When I connect with friends on the other side of the world (the reason I love Facebook), the distance between us seems to melt away. Let’s face it, I’ve lived a lot of places and I do have many friends in each place. Just because the quantity is large, it doesn’t reflect the love I have for them. The only way to keep that number from increasing is to stop meeting new people and being involved in their lives, and that I refuse to do. I mean, what is ministry besides relationships?

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