Though it is becoming more difficult I still remember when friends were friends.

I still remember when if something important was happening in a friend’s life they would directly and personally contact me to let me know.

Now I am left to find out about all sorts of life events on social media. What used to be personal sharing has become impersonal posting. Deeper truths are tweeted, and reality is revealed in a newsfeed. In a barrage of collective data, the interpersonal is becomes buried. Intimacy, I fear, is stopping scrolling long enough to actually read.

Let me be clear: I have done it. I have found myself overwhelmed by the task of sharing important information with a large number of people. It seemed convenient and expeditious to use social media as a way disseminating something that also felt way too sensitive to post to the masses. I did so in spite of feeling uncomfortable and out of sync with the deeper calling of my heart and soul. I did, though, contact a few people who I did not want to learn the news by catching it in a public platform.

I remember fondly when friends were really friends. Not mere acquaintances. Not scroll by notices. Not hit and run news bytes. Friends. The I have your phone number memorized kind of friends. The something really good/bad happened and I have to tell you kind of friends. The I know your secrets and I still love you and I will keep your secrets kind of friend.

They have become fewer, further between, and infinitely more precious to me.

One of the many distinctions that has become painfully clear to me during this pandemic is that if I am left to find out from Facebook what it is really occurring in your life than we are not what I think of as true friends. I do not perceive that as a problem. It is an awareness. And it is a two-way street. If something significant is occurring for me it is my friends that I will directly notify. Or at the very least, notify first. My friends will not learn of my diagnosis, losses, tragedies, and triumphs on social media. If I would choose to then share it publicly, it will not be new news to those closest to me. It will not be new and surprising information. It will be a confirmation.

Though it is becoming more difficult I still remember when friends were friends.

I confess to wanting to go back to that.

I want more.

I want friendship to be more than 140 characters and posted pictures and shared sharing’s and multiple likes. I will gladly trade 240 Happy Birthday posts from people I barely for just one or two sincere telephone calls.

I want more of what is personal and intimate. More of what often feels risky because it is so real and meaningful. I want the awkwardness of vulnerability, openness, and frequent messiness. I want to know I matter enough to you to warrant a call, a note, a touch. I would like to know that you notice when I may go missing. I want to summon from myself the courage to go personal when virtual feels easier, safer.

I am committed to navigating this current landscape differently. I will likely continue to use social media, though I will not allow it to use me. I will be more mindful of what and how I share information. I will honor other’s choices of what and how they share, and I will honor how those choices land for me. I decide what friendship means to me, and I will not demand that my parameters govern other people’s choices. And if I am left to learn of something profound that is happening for you along with all the masses, I will take my place among them. I will recognize, and I will accept my place in your life.

This time of pandemic is a profound resetting of priorities for me. Levels of friendship and relationship are high among those re-evaluations. Social distancing has taught me how distant our current culture has become. Media is convenient, yes. And it is also in many ways disconnecting. Media rapidly reaches many people. It does. Yet it is more vital to me to touch a few hearts. It will take longer. And I suspect it will mean more.

It is often said that when times are tough you find out who your real friends are. That has been supremely born out for me in the past couple of years. A huge weeding of this garden has occurred. Some of that was of my intentional action. Some of it felt as if it happened independent of my own choices. Either way, there is plenty of room for new and existing flowers to grow. New ways of relating to flourish. New depths to be plunged and new heights to be soared. I am open and I am ready for it. It is a risk I am willing to risk.

It is not enough for me to simply remember when friends were really friends. I want that now. It is a perspective and an experience that I am actively cultivating. Part of that for me involves less media and more immediacy. I will undoubtedly miss events, birthdays, and life occurrences. I am sorry for that. But I will not miss the things that are happening for people who truly see me as a friend that they directly include in the moments of their life experience. And then if I do miss something, I will be told I was missed.

I have a great number of social media acquaintances. I have very few social media friends. I get to choose how I see that distinction, and how I relate to it. I see it in perspective. And I am using the framing to awaken me to the rare and precious gift of intimate friendship. I am vowing to make more direct contact, and to share at a deeper and truer level. You, my friends, will not learn of what is important to me along with the masses. You will hear it directly from me. If for convenience and expediency I need to share in order to disseminate sensitive information you will have known it first.

I am remembering when friends were friends by being that kind of friend now.