Saturday, 29 October 2011

Can I call you friend?

Those of you who know me now may find this hard to believe but I was a painfully shy, unsocialised bundle of insecurities as a child. This continued on well into adult hood and social gatherings were to be avoided at any cost.
School was a painful experience for me as I was the quiet academic child that would make herself as inconspicuous as possible so as not to get noticed by teachers and fellow pupils alike. I was very lucky that bullying wasn't a problem, I think my peers either saw me as too quiet to bother with or a swot who again wasn't worth bothering with. If I was approached by teachers or pupils I got horribly tongue tied and would go as red as a beetroot whilst I squirmed in front of them.
This appalling reaction to being spoken to lasted well into adulthood and I can recall many occasions when I wished the ground would open up and swallow me.
Anyway as usual I digress, the point of this blog is friendship and my trip down memory lane is a connection that I hope will become clear.

As a child and young adult I remember having one friend at each of the schools I attended, one friend I would call for to walk to school, hang around with at break time and then walk home with.
I was with my one friend from senior school,when I met my husband at 15, he was and still is the complete opposite to me, Mr sociable 'I can talk to anyone' himself!
You might think that could never work and if I'm honest in some settings it didn't but in other ways I guess we complimented each other, I was his quiet influence and he was my as yet undiscovered social side.

Family life became my saviour in a way as when the girls came along social settings couldn't all be avoided and I had to take more of a part in that side of life. I didn't want them growing up like me and so made a determined effort to be sociable for their sakes. Meeting other mums, having their friends over etc forced me into social situations I could no longer avoid.

Whilst still not comfortable in groups I.e at parties or large social gatherings I discovered I was fine on a one to one basis, and get this....people liked me!
As my confidence grew I formed friendships, still not lots in one go but a couple of friends at a time I could handle and enjoy.

Work then became the place where I learned more about my own people skills and social preferences, meetings in a group were to be got through but meetings with people in small groups were enjoyable, I was comfortable in groups of no more than 3 or 4 people and no longer shrunk into the background for safety.
In fact I discovered I had a talent for 'being' with people, my sensitivity meant I was able to 'feel' for others, understand them, help them and so my career in the caring profession was born.

Friends were now part of my life. Then I discovered Twitter, this social network where people talked to each other, shared part of themselves with others. Was this for me?
What if I had nothing to say? What if no one responded to me? What if???
It completely changed my social situation again, I was talking to lots of people, they talked back to me, I got to know them and like them and became interested in them and their lives and they did the same for me.
Are these friends? Can I claim to have all these friends? Can the girl who could only handle one friend at a time now say she is a part of a group of friends?
It is my main social activity now so I do hope the answer is yes.


Ron Graves said...

Well, skipping straight to your last two paras, yes, of course you can.


Well, let me give you an example - when I was hauled off to hospital in January, seriously ill, far more people on Twitter were concerned for me than in "real life". And if I don't tweet for a day - a rare event - there's usually someone who'll wonder what's happened.

And as someone who doesn't make friends easily, I value that. The more so now, I become increasingly housebound.

Ron Graves said...

Ah, dear me . . .

The last sentence should read: The more so now that I'm becoming increasingly housebound.

Penny, could you change that, please, and delete this? Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Yes the Tweety people are friends but I think they are friends from a 'safe' distance. I think you can be who you want to be on here rather than who you are expected to be to those around you. You can like the Tweeters' chatter, personalities and characters but there are not the same commitments as a real face to face relationship. Embrace the care and joy from Twitter friends, it's great but it's no replacement for 'real' people!

Ron Graves said...

@Anonymous 15.10

On the contrary, many people on Twitter are themselves, for better or worse. I certainly am - what you see on Twitter is what you get in person. Many, in fact, find it far easier to be themselves on Twitter, especially those who are seriously shy.

And, by the way, the people on Twitter are real people - just as real as someone on the end of the telephone line. Some may invent alternate personalities, but I doubt they're a majority.

Many use clearly fake names. I wouldn't, but that's their choice and I don't have a problem with it, whatever their reasons, but a nom de Twitter doesn't make them any less real.

To dismiss Twitter folk as "not real" is, in my view, a mistake, and I think a lot of them would be mortified to be seen that way. Peeved, too, I should think.

feline9 said...

Yes yes and yes! I understand exactly where you are coming from. I was similar, and now that more housebound I would be lost without my friends here. I think we are more honest online, as we are not physically in each others lives we can be very honest and really be ourselves, because lets face it if it doesn't work out it is easy to escape!!

Anonymous said...

I definitely consider you to be a friend, Penny. My attendance on twitter and blogging is erratic, but even when I'm not around, I'm often thinking of you. I've spent the last couple of days catching up with your blog posts that I've missed.
Some people who don't socialise online see people that you meet there as "not real"... I strongly disagree with that, seeing as I met both my husband and my best friend online, as well as many other good friends! :)