Facebook and Proverbs 15:17*

While in San Francisco last week, I got to play while Rob attended the AIA convention (I knew there would be at least one good consequence of my dropping out of architecture school!)  One of the biggest highlights of my trip was getting to see my dear friend Kirsten, who lives in the Bay area with her husband and little boy.  I took the train out to their apartment and spent most of the afternoon playing with the baby and catching up with her.  You know how, with good friends, there's never any awkwardness, any feeling of missed time?  You can just pick up where you left off, poking fun at your past selves and gradually becoming acquainted with your present ones.

Sometime between sharing foggy memories of our school days (Kirsten, much more of a realist, helped me dig up some repressed memories of the times we got in trouble together) and catching up about the time we had missed, she hesitantly asked if I was on Facebook.  I must have betrayed wariness in my expression, because she laughed and shook her head, saying, "I know.  I know."

It's not that, I explained.  I'm not trying to be counter-cultural.  I actually do have a Facebook account, with a few friends whose detective skills are uncannily keen (I'm listed under the alias of my cat.)  My excuse for not being an active member is that I teach high school.  I don't want my students finding and friending me, reading about my family members' lives.  And yes, I know there are lots of security options.  So I guess the underlying reason I don't use it much (other than establishing contact, finding addresses, etc.) is that I have a superstitious belief that friendships end for a reason.  I'm still in contact with people I went to elementary and middle and high school with -- my friends.  And there's plenty of friends I'm not in contact with, but honestly, I don't feel the need to know where they are, who they married and what they just ate for lunch that didn't agree with them.

"I wish I could see you more," I told her.  "But I'm also okay with going a couple of years without seeing you, if it means we can spend a whole afternoon together like this."  Realistically, that's more quality time than I've spent with some of my local friends in the past few years -- schedules seem to pile up, and we make do with a few sentences of conversation at a party or after church.

Looking at the past month and the one coming up, I can name several more people I've had to sacrifice being physically close to for the pleasure of spending an afternoon or a day with them every few months or years.  But that only makes the time together all the more precious, and like I said, I don't mind.  I will make the most of it; while we are together, I will cut right to the good part.

So, for those of you who were too lazy to look up the verse, here it is: "Better a dish of vegetables where love is, than a fatted ox and hatred with it."  Personally, I'll take the vegetables any day (I'm picky about pork) but obviously that's missing the point: these small moments, brief and far spread though they may be, are what keep a friendship going.  And I would never say that Facebook is full of hatred.  I know of several friends (example) who have reconciled long-standing disagreements or revived lost friendships through it.  But I tend to think that I'm here for a reason, and the people who are here with me need me more.

In high school I served as a camp counselor for several summers and became close with many of the other counselors.  My first year was the most memorable, and I recall how, on the last day, one of my friends gave me a small gift with a note that ended, "I hope to meet you again; if not on earth, then in Heaven."  At the time, I thought it was pretty morbid, as well as ridiculous: how could we not meet again in such a small world?  But, over a decade later, I haven't seen Leah, and with each passing year the chances of that happening grow smaller.  That's okay.  There's always eternity.