Being a distant friend on the internet is incredibly difficult sometimes. When those I have come to know are facing problems, my first instinct is to try and help – to reach out – to be there. I wonder how much a quiet message telling somebody that you read their post, and that you’re out here if they want to empty their head is really worth. It’s all I really have to give though – some time, and a sympathetic ear.
If all I have is time, and attention, does that really make me a friend? Or just a well meaning bystander? When a good friend that lives across the way had a medical emergency with her young son a few years ago, I arrived on her doorstep minutes after her call – ready to do whatever she asked. I can’t do that on the internet. And it sometimes feels horrible.
I’ve learned enough during my life to know that not everybody thinks the same way. Not everybody runs towards loss, difficulty, or danger. Sure, I might not know what to do when I get there, but maybe there might be something I can do when I get there. Maybe I won’t get in the way.
I’ve also learned that the internet is a wonderful escape. In the middle of awful situations, we can find friends outside of our circle to connect with – to lessen the load somewhat. The thought that I might be there for others from time to time makes taking the chance to reach out worth it.