They are the “aunt” and “uncle” to your kids but these people really aren’t your sibling(s); they are so much a part of your family your kids know them as Uncle So-and-So or Aunt Whats-Her-Name. The type of friends that come to your house, unannounced, they open the door to let themselves in, holler down the hall to make sure you are decent and then proceed to the kitchen to open the refrigerator to help themselves. These age old, lifelong people are known as our refrigerator friends. On the other spectrum we have another demographic of “friends.” People that comment on every post, like every happening, know exactly what is going on virtually in our real life. They text, email and instant message and we always manage to stay connected, these are our Facebook friends.
Some of us in our lifetime will have the unique opportunity to have refrigerator friends. These are the friends we trust our lives with. If they are of depth and ultimate trust, our “inner circle”, we trust our children’s lives to them as well. Some of us only dream of friends like these. Vacationing together, raising children together, dinners, weddings, funerals, every facet of our lives, intertwined with our chosen family.
Some of us will have the opposite. We are so ingrained to have our everyday lives posted, shared, retweeted and blogged to and by our Facebook friends. Maybe only meeting these people once, maybe twice, we are so emotionally connected and or disconnected with these people. Our virtual connection so superficial that we have no real emotional connection which makes the unfollow and unfriend process that much easier.
So what happens when our Facebook friends become more of our refrigerator friends, and our refrigerator friends become more like Facebook friends?
This past weekend I experienced a bit more of this phenomena. The Chad and I planned a much needed date night. Four months without an opportunity to reconnect out of the house, sans kids. Four months is much too long of a time to pass without a reprieve. So we were excited to have a night of fun, just plain old fun! I sent a text to our refrigerator friends and let them know of our plans and considered an outing at TopGolf. If you do not know Top Golf please Google and visit for yourself. Imagine bowling in a driving range.
We knew that was the extent of our plans. Making complete assess out of ourselves by having fun at a sport we don’t play. Excellent. Even more so was the opportunity to have a meal without having the conversation be driven by individuals under the age of 13. I digress as this wasn’t about date night.
Dinner was excellent and we headed to our destination for shenanigans. After waiting for our lane, we commenced total fun. Or so I thought. Mistakenly I thought a night with refrigerator friends would be free of competition, impressions, and one-ups. Clearly I brought expectations with me that this evening would be fun; not competition and not serious. Sadly, the night turned into my deepest fears by my refrigerator friends of utter competition (imaginary as far as I was concerned, I can’t compete in something I had no interest in losing/winning), one ups, showboating and no fun. I even tried to set my boundary that I could care less about golf or where the ball went, I was there to have fun and act a fool in fun because I do not play the sport. The boundary was ignored and my demeanor was taken that I was frustrated because I couldn’t hit the ball well.
The issue could not have been further from the truth. I looked at the situation as if I was not cheering on a friend who sucks at bowling, encouraging them and laughing with them. Who does that, who doesn’t laugh with their friends? If they roll a gutter ball you all laugh it off and have more fun.
Riddled with disappointment and boiling under the surface in frustration, my emotions began bubbling to the top and every ounce of my being was used to restrain the words I wanted to let fly from my mouth. Curse words. Lots of curse words and sadness.
Three hours before this event, I was part of a group private message thread of some Facebook friends. While these folks have interacted with us on a very high level through Jeep excursions and various Jeep outings, their relation to us is more of an acquaintance style as opposed to the deep friendship relation we have with our refrigerator friends. The thread was inviting me to a get together for drinks and shenanigans. Knowing this crowd and knowing our refrigerator friends, I thought to keep each of them separate from the other and not bring them [fridge friends] along. Our refrigerator friends aren’t the type to just hang with this crowd; they are two different demographics and I knew they would be uncomfortable around the Jeep crowd.
As the painful evening came to a close at TopGolf, the situation was obvious I needed a healthy dose of relaxation, an opportunity free of competition, fronts, facades and bullshit [I] felt was taking place with the fridge friends. The Chad wasn’t ready to call it a night since we had a sitter and asked if I wanted to go to the party, eagerly I agreed YES! Immediately we were en route. A hop, skip and jump away, we were amongst Facebook friends. Suddenly I felt my shoulders drop, I could breathe, I could have conversation and not have the topic be driven around something pretentious, boring and unimportant. Kicking off my shoes, making myself something to drink I felt at ease in our Facebook friends house. Revelry, loving on being with good people, laughs and late night snacks cooked in the kitchen before retiring to bed at 3am. Pure old fun. We had not been out that late since we were in our 20s.
The next morning, albeit groggy at 8am, came around and The Chad addressed my frustrations from the previous evening. He knew I was pissed and uneasy. Realization struck me that our refrigerator friends felt suffocating that evening as opposed to our Facebook friends.
Another moment of sadness, rivaled by disappointment and perplexity. What happened? What happened to just being goobers? What happened to our friendship? When did everything change? Did I change? Did we all change? During that moment I questioned if maybe we created something amongst our friendship with our fridge buddies that would generate this type of uneasiness? Did we spawn the need for facades? One ups? Minutiae? Or was it that they changed? Or was I uber sensitive?
Unable to pinpoint the genesis of the situation I also began to consider the newness of our Facebook friends. Could this be like a courting in a new relationship? A honeymoon phase? No. More so I had the realization that I could be more vulnerable, and felt safe in my vulnerability, with Facebook friends over my fridge friends. Speaking singularly, I could not express the joy I felt in having good old fashioned goofy fun. No pretenses. No rubbish. No imaginary competition in which I didn’t know I was competing.
Feeling to be at an impasse I struggle for the next steps. What comes next and is there anything to come next at all? Part of me says let it be and the other part says to fix whatever may be lurking beneath the surface to cause this uneasiness. Part of me says what would it matter, why bother, and the other part says because we have been friends for ages.
Has the advancement of social media interaction through Facebook changed who we really consider friends? Have we allowed ourselves to become so vulnerable in the interwebs and virtual arenas that we have blurred the lines of meaningful relationships? Or is it that some people do change, others not as much and we realize that through change we find these are not the people we once knew to be our inner circle.
Social media, Facebook, have these mediums caused an evolution of sorts in how we look to and at one another? Are we treating our relationships like Facebook posts? Where if they are not “like” or “share” worthy we merely don’t bother to invest in these friendships on a meaningful plane? We just unfriend? Unfollow. Or are we investing purely for our social status or following? How many of your friends would you be comfortable with visiting your home and perusing through your bathroom cabinets and or helping themselves to food in the fridge? Who do you call your refrigerator friends?