Bestselling author, Elizabeth Berg wrote in an essay, “I don’t believe an online relationship is a relationship – not a real one.” (“The Case for Face,” by Elizabeth Berg, Good Housekeeping, April 2013, pg. 121.) The statement caught my eye because of a recent exchange I’d had with one of my Facebook pals. He’d sent me a picture of a rose in honor of our friendship, he wrote. The gesture was lovely, but did we have a friendship, I wondered. It’s true I’ve sent him soothing words during his school exams and have offered sympathy to his love-sick heart.
But given the difference in our age — he is early 20 and I am mid 70 — and the difference in our cultures which are geographically and ideologically miles apart, could we ever really be friends? History shows us a few examples of friendships forged through correspondence alone. But a smiley face or a greeting of “Hi,” won’t take my Facebook friend and I very far.
I agree with Berg that friendship that are strongest when hands touch or a soothing word is spoken. A presence of either sort invades the walls of our isolation in the happiest way.
Being a wordsmith, like the author, I respect the power of the written word to convey feelings. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t write for Amnesty International or this blog. But a dimension is lost when our other senses are deprived. They, too, are powerful communicators. Relationships built with those can withstand a tearful call in the dead of night.
(Courtesy of www.hosparus.org)