Friendship is really complex in our day and time. For those of us who are "old" (I'm talking 40ish and above), the advent of all of the social networking sites has allowed us to connect with people we haven't seen or talked to in years. Many of them we haven't even thought about since the last time we saw them. When I signed up for Facebook, I had bunches of people from high school send "friend" requests. There were a few of them that I was really happy to hear from. There were several that really surprised me. These people were not my "friends" in high school. In fact, many of them weren't even very nice to me in high school. Why do they care what I am up to 25 years later? Why to I really care what they are up to?
Part of it, in all honesty, is probably ego. I have done well since high school. I've got a PhD in biological sciences. I've been published in scientific journals. Other scientists have asked advice and have valued my insight and opinion. I've had a 20+ year successful marriage. I have 3 healthy kids. Maybe I want some of those people to know that I didn't turn out to be a total fuck-up. Maybe I want them to know that I've succeeded and have a great life despite not being in the "in" crowd in high school.
I friended most of the ones that requested it; and I have looked through their pictures and updates. But that is probably as far as it will go. I won't be looking them up if I am in their city of residence. They may be on my friend list, but they are not really my friends.
On the other hand, I have reconnected with people that truly were and are my friends through both email and Facebook. These means of communication really can help you stay connected to people far away. We lived in Alabama for a time and I made some really good friends there. I've been able to stay in touch and "see" them through email and Facebook in a way that written letters and even phone calls can't supply. I just emailed one of them yesterday because her birthday is coming up. I miss hanging out with her and her kids. Maybe keeping up via computer is not as satisfying as seeing her in person, but I really enjoy looking at pictures on her Facebook page and seeing how the kids have grown.
Almost 4 years ago a friend of mine had her 40th birthday. We were best friends since the 6th grade. We survived high school together (even though we went to different, all-girl, private high schools). We survived boyfriends and break-ups. We were in each other's weddings. Then distance separated us for quite a long time. When I went to her house to celebrate her birthday, I was a little nervous. We hadn't seen each other in so long. Yes, we'd sent cards, and emails. We'd talked on the phone a few times. But we hadn't been together. Well, it just didn't matter. As soon as we were in the same room together it was like we had never been apart. In my heart, I know that she is a true friend. Jen, I love you!