Having been on Social Media for almost 10 years, I've seen people come and go, most of them strangers.
In the early days, it was common for people to set up an account, explore the new platform, build up followers and either a) get bored b) be easily offended and block you or c) change names and d) as you build up new followers and followed new people, you just lost track of who you chatted to.
Some people become real friends, you move over to face book, you text, you physically meet up, you may live in the same town and see one another every day, you may only physically see one another a couple of times a year. But you are friends who share emotions, secrets, day to day stuff, things you probably wouldn't share with others, you somehow feel safe sharing with 'strangers' online.
Before Social Media people only really knew their family and the people in the same village, town, city to where they lived. I moved a lot as a child around the UK and from an early age had pen friends that I'm still in touch with to this day. The friendship however has migrated over to FB and is more of an occasional 'like' It's become lazy, we no longer have anything in common. I have real friends who have never done the whole Social Media thing, or have accounts and don't post, but who think they share my life because they see what I'm doing and we do occasionally meet up, usually through me making the effort.
I have friends on SM that I no longer interact with, that no longer interact with me and I wonder why I bother keeping them as friends online, twitter is one thing. FB is more personal.
Earlier this month I realised a friend, who I'd never met, hadn't posted online for a couple of weeks, this is unlike her, I was worried. I checked messages to see when we'd last spoken. We'd not spoken privately for a long time, but she had been extremely supportive with my father's death over the summer months. I'd neglected a lot of friends over the summer, a lot of them had their own problems and had neglected me also, such is life.
When you spend a lot of time on SM it's easy to keep in touch with people, send messages, comment on a post, but it's also easy to just see what they are doing, like an occasional post and not interact.
But like a neighbour, a friend on social media is there every day. You smile at your neighbour, say good morning, wave a hand in acknowledgement as you walk past the kitchen window, share an exchange of words of the lack of survives in your area, the lack of bin collection, catch brief snippets of their work and family life, or you may chat with them everyday over the fence or drink coffee together.
Friends on Social Media you click on their page, but you see a photo of their garden, you see the photos from their holiday, but you don't always interact, you just get used to seeing them there and when all of a sudden they disappear, you worry, you wonder where they are.
Sometimes you never find out where they've gone, sometimes they message you and/or others to say they're going off SM and sometimes they die.
Sara died on October the 3rd. I was catching up with my online friends, she hadn't posted for a few weeks, that concerned me. I'm not friends with her adult daughter but I messaged her at 6.45pm to ask if everything was OK with her mum. She messaged me back at 10pm to say her mother had died only an hour earlier.
I don't know how Sara died, I could speculate, I could ask her daughter, but it's irrelevant to my friendship with her. I don't need to know. All I know is that Sara hadn't posted online that she was unwell. The last time she'd talked about her health was in June when she was bitten on her foot by a horsefly.
All I know is that I wake up each day and as I scroll through my face book, I know Sara isn't there anymore and I've lost a friend.