Friends, acts of friendship & the digital age

So, my dear reader, I've had a few highs and lows over the last month. They've made me reflect a bit

I'm a single chap living in Oxford. I don't have an intimate partner, and am not especially close to most of my family. So I really do value and need my friends. I hope they value and need me too.

I also spend about equal times on Twitter as in real life (IRL).

Recent times have been making me think about what friendship means to me. My deeply analytical brain really wants me to come up with some classifications. To define a 'true' IRL friendship; compared to an 'online' friendship; compared to an acquaintance; compared to a random person that I might bump into in the street or online.

But I'm learning life's not that easy. Things don't always fit into pigeon holes. Especially people, and especially friends. And, even if they did, things always shift & move. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

So all I can do in honesty and with an open heart is tell you about some of my friendships and where friendship hasn't worked. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. And the 'guilty'.


I first met Chris when I moved to Oxford over 10 years ago. We worked together for many years, and also had many pints. We ended up sharing a house for around 8 years. Chris knows me well, and I know Chris well. I know we can always go out for a beer together and have a laugh. I also know I can spill my heart out to Chris, and Chris can do the same. We're also very logical / practical people - if I ever need help, or if Chris ever does, we'll be there for each other.


I met Terry from work. We got on really well. Saw a lot of each other. Even shared an allotment and went on a 10-day holiday - just the two of us, and never fell out! One day Terry stopped replying to calls, texts and email. Nothing. Nada. I moved city a few months later and moved on. Years later I got an email from Terry - one of those "Hi, how are you, not heard from you for ages" emails. I replied in a friendly way. And never heard back. I was really hurt at the time - which was compounded by having now idea what happened. I still don't know. People can be odd!


Alex are many people I don't really know. They are people on Twitter. Sometimes, when I'm feeling low, I ask Twitter for support. Alex are the random strangers that come through for me. They tweet things like "*hugs*" and "you alright mate". They don't know me, and I don't know them. Though in low times, knowing that people care for me means a huge amount. Never met, probably will never meet, though they are my friends and make the world a better place!


I met this person from Twitter with a view to a bigger relationship. Didn't work out, as can be the way of things. It's still early days, though I think I may have a new friend out of this :). Hope it works out. Think it will!


I met Sam through work. We always got on well. Became best mates in fact, Then it became sexual. I loved this element - though Sam was always clear it was just a thing - not long term. I had to spend four months out of the country, and often felt lonely. Sam was always there for me :). It wasn't to be (I should have listened to Sam!), but we're still really close mates.


I met Leslie on Twitter, and then IRL. Leslie & I seemed to share a lot. Over time I noticed it was all one way - Leslie always wanted attention from me, but never seemed to give me attention. I brought this up with Lesie and suffice to say it didn't go down well. After a few DMs, Leslie unfollowed me and I unfollowed Leslie. I think this was the right thing, and still wish Leslie well.


I met Jamie about a year ago. On Twitter. I think we were potential dating material, though events happened and that wasn't going to happen. Probably for the best as we've made meeting on Twitter to making a great friendship in which we just get on great as real buddies that can talk crap and talk fro the heart.


Ash & I went to university together, though Ash was a couple of years younger. We ended up sharing a house. Ash was skint, so I lent him the deposit. When the tenancy came to an end Ash picked up the deposit and fucked off back to Ireland without saying anything. If Ash had spoken to me I probably would have given them the money (I'm a sucker like that). Two years later Ash emailed me - uber-friendly and suggested meeting up. Ash seemed surprised when I said fuck of and never contact me again.


Danny is several people. People that I met on Twitter and have seen once or twice IRL. I can't saw Danny and I are close friends, however Danny is more than 'just' a Twitter follower to me. Danny has always been kind to me, and helped me grow in confidence and as a person.


Pat is a partner of one of my friends. For years, I assumed Pat was nice to me as I was a friend of their partner. Then one day, a couple of years ago, Pat got in touch with me to say we'd not seen each other for ages and we should go for a beer. It took me ages to realise that this was because Pat liked me, and this was nothing to do with Pat's partner. I can be slow on the uptake!


I met Graham over 40 years ago. I've never been sure if Graham likes me, or if I like him. I'd like to get to know him better, but he's so closed - mostly to himself. More recently, Graham seems to be opening up and finding his feet in the world. I think a big part of this is Graham has some great mates - mates that like him for him. And where friendships haven't worked out, he's stopped blaming himself. Graham seems to be starting to believe he's basically a good person. I want Graham to be my friend. I'd like to like myself.


These are just a couple of examples, if you can't see yourself here is doesn't mean you're not precious to me - most likely I've run out of non-gender specific names!

So, my conclusion. I don't really know. I have a lot of friends. I can't categorise them. I love them all. I hope they love me. They make the world a happy place, and make me a better person.