Take Your Friends

The young miss seems to stay well-connected with her friends via the internet and smart phone. Like her, they have mostly scattered off to the corners of the country for college. The closest three bff’s, literally: Texas, Virginia, and northern Iowa (university as well as geography). Draw it on a map and within the quadrilateral they now form, a good chunk of the US is contained within. Not as many in the new location, yet.

A large chunk of my Facebook feed is dedicated to the friends I left behind in the Midwest. Some are old college connections, sure. But in January, I observed the politics-time of the Iowa caucuses: feeling the Bern while making America, or at least Iowa, great. (Again?) And this past week, I was treated to a few lectures about the bad liturgical music we sing–but I was exonerated because I dared to program psalms in place of “hymns” in my last parish.

Facebook wants to feed me new friends I don’t know at all or have never met. This is skewed because of the many college students on my friends list. I see somebody new suggested because we have twenty or thirty mutual friends, and I think, “Ah, a popular new student.” Start me with the “one mutual friend,” please, and I think I’ll have connections.

I think I have four friends in Washington state outside of my family. Tally doubled yesterday. Facebook mixes it up, but with their insistence on the numbers, I wouldn’t know if my whole choir is on in force, or in just a whisper.

Never before have human beings been so mobile, so able, if not willing to move. But an invention like social media keeps us tied down like medieval economics and transportation. There’s a village in which we’re born, and if we connect well there, it is easy to be lazy about new friends, new frontiers. Now we can take our old friends with us, and if we’ll never set foot in their house again, we can watch their favorite recipes unfold on those time-lapse cooking memes.

Which reminds: it’s time for breakfast.

I’m not a sociologist, but this phenomenon of taking¬†friends with you when you move is fascinating. It’s like the alumni news section of my alma mater’s news organ. Only I get it more than six times a year. I can get it every day if I want.

How does this impact our ability and willingness to connect with new people? How do those connections impact how the Church and parishes conduct themselves, and stay social?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Take Your Friends

  1. Liam says:

    Age matters. Midlife is a relatively lean time, at least at the height of peers raising children to send them off to credentialing, um, college (and then the pressures of using most larger blocks of free time directly or indirectly for very elderly parents). And the economic pressures of our long recession-depression (2000-present) have, like those of the Great Depression and its agricultural precursor starting in the late 1920s, done much to scatter people.

  2. Melody says:

    The good side of Facebook and other social sites is reconnecting with relatives and old friends you haven’t seen in years. The bad side is when it’s used to dumb down the social discourse by means of stupid stuff being passed around with no fact checking, or to shame or bully others. Like anything else I guess, can be used or abused. It can actually help parishes stay in touch; ours has a prayer chain that is passed around via e-mail. Our bulletin is also online.

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