of friendships forged in the era of the internet, part I.

I am writing this right now from Cape Town, South Africa… hello! It’s gorgeous here plus because it’s still spring right now in the southern hemisphere – amazing weather. I’m enjoying myself a lot. Globe-trotting much? Maybe… but it’s really because this honeymoon period is, as we all know by now, soon over. Just a little under two months, to be precise.

I am writing this because every now and then while traveling, I am awash with a sadness I don’t know to name. Or maybe in this case, strangeness. I know what you’re probably thinking: “Don’t be so dramatic!” or “Ugh, stop overthinking every damn thing all the time!” I agree on both; I agree. I just – I wish I know exactly how to do so? Trust me, I’d really like to be in someone’s home, far away from mine, and not remember and think about mine, neither the physical nor the conceptual. I wish it’s effortless for me to be in the moment and be present – if ‘here‘ is Cape Town, then that’s what it is; easy cheesy.

But I’m not wired like that; I’m just not cool like that.

(…and I won’t apologize for it – you either get all of me or none of me, period)

Likewise, I’ve been thinking of friends too and right now, I feel… strange? On one hand, I feel like the lines between reel and real are becoming increasingly blurred over time. Yet, I don’t know what to make of my reliance and ugh, significant time spent on social media. There’s Facebook where I have an active account meant for laughs, random interests, and keeping-in-touch with friends I first met in-person before our Facebook accounts were exchanged, so-called confirming we’re indeed friends… then there’s here and Twitter, where  I have these friends I coin as ‘online friends’ – 99% people I’ve never met in-person but with whom I, ironically, freely share stories, sentiments, write-ups and now photos with…

…but are they real? Are we real? Is any of this real?

What we have, these friendships, are they actually tangible and those I can rely and count on in the physical world? Are we there for each other in the realest sense of the word or are we fooling ourselves, extending heartfelt words and sentiments because online, they easily cost nothing but mean everything? Plus, we’re all veiled to each other anyway… What do I make of those Skype sessions a month ago, for instance; do they count for anything? Are we in actual life, friends? Photos that I continue to share on Twitter… to whom, for what? We know so little of each other, when it comes down to who we are – how much backstory do we need to know to call ourselves friends? Is one realm of friendship more real than the other?

In the end, when I claim to ‘have’ people by my side – do I really? 

Those I call ‘friends’ – are they really? Are we? When someone tells me they want to be there for me – do they mean it? Or have I simply been kidding myself, believing so when in truth, like with everything else, this is simply another carefully curated reality? Reel and real may have blurred, yes, but what if the truth is that neither is more real than the other? You know what I mean…? Either side of the coin, my life’s worth and self-authenticity are only as ‘real’ as I curate them.

I don’t know where I’m going with this – this is the perfect example of what’s called random, scattered thoughts – but sometime today I was struck by the thought that in the end, to be completely frank – we’re all simply strangers to each other. It’s like the feeling I had when walking in Bo-kaap neighborhood with other visitors on this free walking tour; though we did not converse with each other, we’d all walked together for a time, sharing sights and information. It’s easy to think we’re pals and new buds after say, the first hour; it’s easy to assume something tangible may have formed from common interests.

But.

The second hour passed, the tour just ended – it’s time to say goodbye and oh, how easily the group disintegrates? Each person or couple moves on to their next itinerary without even a sideway glance. Oh. How silly – me.

In the end, this still holds true: they(you) don’t know me… and vice versa.

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