Is the Way We Navigate Friendships Changing?

A strange thing happened to me the other day.  I lost a follower on a social media site and
it actually made me feel sad. 

As followers come and go I don’t usually mind.  I understand that is the nature of social
media – it is fast-paced, often impersonal and one has to grow a thick skin to
survive it.  But this loss hurt me.  Because it was a friend I had known for many
years and though we are not close any more, and indeed have not seen each other
for some time, we still connected through social media and I felt that he was
still in my life a little bit in that way.
So I was sad when I saw he had decided to un-follow me.   And I found myself going through reasons in
my head as to why I had upset him, if indeed I had upset him.   Then, I found myself looking at my posts to
find clues as to why he decided to pick that moment to leave me. Then, the
third stage, I began to convince myself he must have hit the wrong key and made
a mistake.  

Ultimately, I gave myself a good shake and thought about how
silly it was to analyse in such great detail that one little thing that
happened on that one social media site. 

Thinking about it more widely though, I have seen a real
shift over the past decade in how I make friends and how my friendships
happen.  I imagine I’m not alone in
that.   Where once I would speak to my
friends often on the telephone, we now carry out most of our contact without
speaking at all – we text, email, and other messaging methods, to arrange our
plans.    And  it isn’t uncommon to spend an evening
exchanging messages about a TV programme, which we are watching in separate
houses.

How strange to have become so remote when the technology and
world around us has become so advanced.  
And how strange that the very things that were designed to bring us
closer together may actually be facilitating our separation.   

I see the way we communicate with friends and make friends
changing all the time.   Where once one
might make friends through fairly traditional means – at school, college, in
the pub, at social gatherings – now, it is commonplace to make friends in the
virtual world who you become very close to but in some instances never meet. 

I’ve had this myself.  
I am part of an online blogging community of wonderful and inspiring
women and I feel I could call some of them actual friends now, albeit in a
different way to my real world friends. 

It’s all well and good reflecting on how things have changed
but what about for the future generation? 

I look at my children and whilst they are still only small I
anticipate that their experiences of friendship will be very different to that
which I and my friends grew up with.   Do
technology and social media do that?  Or
is it just that we carry on evolving the way we approach our friendships
anyway?     

I see my children in their nursery settings making friends
just as I did as a small child, but I know this may change as they grow up and
become more aware of influences around them.    
I wish I had a glimpse into the future so I could warn them if things
get tough.   As they navigate
friendships, are they going to be faced with more challenges than I did or just
different ones?   For example, bullying
has become something that has left the classroom and entered children’s homes
online.    That’s a frightening thought.   

Will my children be able to hold on to the social skills
they develop as small children once the pressures of technology enter their
worlds?   

Will my children experience the pressures of wanting to be
accepted and liked online?  Will that be
their validation of themselves or will they brush it off and see what’s around
them in the real world? 

Will they even know this is an issue for their parents,
because it is all they have ever known? 

I don’t have the answers to these questions but I think it
is important to think about them.   And
important to be able to adapt the way I think so I can help my children to
embrace a future of adulthood that may be very different to my own.

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Goodbye Secret Breakfast

This morning I said goodbye to one of my favourite pastimes – Secret Breakfast.

Secret Breakfast began when my eldest child was about 2 and a bit, and my youngest had begun to sleep in his own bed (and no longer in our room).   Secret Breakfast became my morning ritual every weekday morning before the house woke up.   Everybody was in bed.  It was my time and I used it wisely.

Creeping downstairs at around 6am, eating my breakfast, kettle on, iPad on, catching up on the latest news and gossip and generally having a bit of ‘me time’ before life for that day began.

Secret Breakfast lasted longer than I expected.  I reckon I got about a year before my eldest cottoned on to my ritual.   She started to come into bed with us at just before 6am, and then if I didn’t take her downstairs with me, she would play merry hell and threaten to wake up my youngest with a supreme tantrum.   I couldn’t have that and so I let her join me.  Of course I had to adapt a little – I introduced breakfast kid’s telly but this was no bad thing.

Fast-forward to today and the inevitable happened.  My youngest woke up just before 6am, screamed a bit, and emotionally blackmailed me into letting him join us (aka looked sad through the bars of his cot).    And so it came to pass that the upstairs of the house was now quiet, the downstairs was chaos, and Secret Breakfast was no more.

I thought about this during the day (I need to get out more).   I thought about the death of another ‘me time’ ritual.  And I thought about the other things that have departed my world since having the kids, and things that will probably, no certainly, disappear over time.

If I could make a list of Top Things I wish I had But Don’t Any More Since Having Kids, going to the toilet alone would be right up there at the top for everybody to see.

I miss going to the toilet alone.  I never imagined I would.  Other parents made jokes about it.  I just scoffed back with my usual ‘yeah, right’.   But it’s so devastatingly true.    Even if I shut the door a little, it is only a matter of seconds before it creaks open and there is a little being on the other side, armed with a big grin and lots of probing questions.

Second on my list would be the ability to ‘nip to the shops’.    Shopping now is one of two things – 1. At night, under cover of darkness, with the kids in bed and hubby/me taking turns, or 2. Hell on earth, everything happens very slowly with much bribery and negotiation and a few arguments over the kids refusing to walk/wanting to go into the trolley thrown in for good measure.  I miss the days I could just nip in the shop quickly and purposely stride in, make my purchase and leave.

Third would be eating badness at any time of day.    Since kids, this was firstly confined to eating with my head in the fridge, to now not happening at all (the kids are getting too wise).

Fourth, being able to listen to old school dance music in the car and pretend I’m back there in the 90’s (and that in the 90’s I was cool); this has been replaced with Mamma Mia soundtrack or Let It Go on repeat.

And fifth, though it hasn’t happened yet but I know it will – the demise in the future of my viewing control over the TV as the kids get older and stay up later.   I wonder, do they make stairgates for teenagers?

Anyway, this is my list of things I have lost since having the kids.   Do you have things you have let go since having your kids?

I think other parents and baby books should definitely let you know about these, so you can say goodbye gracefully.

But of course, in the grand scheme of things, these are small fry and since having kids I have gained so much more so I can’t complain…too much.

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