Keeping up with friends and family around the globe is certainly easier with a connection online. Whether that connection is through email or a networking website the world just feels smaller knowing those you care about are only a few clicks away. Googling made it possible to find lost connections, those people whose memory remained vivid despite the passage of time. What was nice about googling was the ability to steer clear of those you chose to; the practice of looking people up was proactive and controlled, if you didn’t want to find someone chances are you wouldn’t. Even if you did find someone it was often difficult to actually contact them making random, unwanted correspondence rare. With a whole industry focused on online networking people can now come out of the woodwork, leading to mixed amounts of excitement and disappointment.
It is exciting and touching to hear from a missed friend, remember all the good times and be able to share in their “new” lives. Through the internet I have reconnected with my closest and best friend from my childhood after our college years separated us and found relatives who fill in missing gaps in my genealogy. The internet allows us to stay connected with family and friends who are thousands of miles away. It is also easier to keep in touch with friends who are busy raising their families and advancing their careers. It is fun to see the names and faces of people whom you once cared about and remember the time and memories shared.
The human mind is amazing in its capacity to suppress or alter painful memories. There are plenty of people our brains elect to forget for one painful, heart wrenching reason or another. Sometimes we recall ex-lovers more fondly then they deserve with the fog of time and distance dulling the heartbreak. It is these ghosts from relationships past that shock the system when they suddenly appear in a friend request. Even without a friend request is it hard not to be spooked by these ghosts when websites actually suggest names of people you could know, often with eerie levels of accuracy. Then you are forced into the quandary whether to befriend the individual or pretend their names are not staring at you from the screen. What makes the struggle worse is that same person is probably looking at your name in their profile wondering if they want to be friends with me still?
On a positive note, many have reconnected with their exes and old friends online to discover they were meant to be after all. How many people break up because priorities at that time focused on things other then relationships? Relationships are all about timing; what did not work 10 years ago can work great for people giving it another chance. Someone should conduct a study to see if re-connecting on social networking sites is a better way of finding love than on dating sites. Somehow I do not think match.com or eHarmony would like the findings.
Online friendships add a level of complexity to one’s committed relationships. The “rules” on dealing with exes through traditional communication channels are a bit more defined and for most couples there are boundaries and guidelines to when it is acceptable to talk to or see an ex. Rules and etiquette as to when it is okay to befriend an ex online are still somewhat unwritten. Finding, or being found by, exes online does evoke a certain amount of nostalgia but then there is that little issue of how the person you are spending your nights with feels about the ex. Having an ex on facebook is much different then catching a cup of coffee with them to rehash old times. Everyone is different on how they handle this but here is typically how this happens at our household:
- The Husband: My ex-girlfriend sent me a friend request.
- Chelle: So?
- The Husband: Is it okay if I accept?
- Chelle: Are you actually asking me permission to have a friend on facebook?
- The Husband: Sorta
- Chelle: Are you interested in her?
- The Husband: No, but she’s probably not interested in me either.
- Chelle: Oh I don’t know, after all the years of hard work I’ve put into you she might want you now. You cleaned up quite nicely.
- The Husband: You’re such a bitch, just for that I’m accepting her request.