Far but close

On my way through the life I’ve met many people, but only few I called my friends. I was always struggling with big words and such definite declarations. Among those who I called that, many are gone. Some are gone because they weren’t really friends, some are gone because I made mistakes. I would have done better if I could change the past, but I can’t, so the only thing I can do is to learn, and be wiser. Time will tell if I am, but at least I know that having friends, being a friend to others, is one of the most important and most beautiful things in life.

My definition of friendships has changed, however. For many years I thought I can be a friend to someone who lives near by and who I see every other day. I suffered because these people were not around. I tried to adapt, I tried to change myself and to be someone else just because I wanted to have friends. I lost myself and never found any friends.

At some point I came to the conclusion that there must be another way. And I tried them all. At the beginning there were internet forums, and they were awesome. I was too young to experience the beginning of the web, but I experience the forums. I met great folks out there, some of them I knew for years, but I never thought about moving those relationships to other channels, and when forums were gone, those folks were also gone. Then there was long time of searching another community. Now I can tell I found one. It all started on Mastodon, but it escalated quickly.

Some people still believe that the personal contact is obligatory to make and maintain the relationship. Maybe for some people it is. But I realized that I don’t need it anymore. I can be a close friends to people who I never met in person, and probably never will. But we have the internet, the best social media platform ever invented, The Web. The web isn’t social media and social media isn’t the web. We have e-mails, chat apps, we have video calls, and all that stuff. But this is just a beginning.

We recently tried something different with some friends. We exchanged real mail, real things, from the other side of the world. It was something that was normal decades ago, and it was so weird now. But it was fun and refreshing. I got little treats and it even made me go to a post office that I hadn’t been to for years. It was a real experience, in the real world, with the touch of a real person. I haven’t made mine yet, but they will get something from me and it will be something special, something I have chosen, packed and prepared for them with my own hands.

But it all starts on the internet, on the old independent web, where there’s no alghorightm and no digital gods telling us what we can and can’t see. It all starts there but it all continues somewhere else.

It continues in our hearts. Because it doesn’t matter what channel or app we use to communicate, as long as we have the will. Because whatever app we use, a friend will be on the other side. We can enjoy whatever platform we have while it exists, and we can move on when it ceases to exist. It doesn’t matter if the platform stays or not, what matters is that friends will be there, friends will stay.

I’ve been looking for so many years and I thought I’d never find people like me. People who think, who feel, who experience the world the way I do. There have been a lot of people in my life and a lot of people I’ve called friends, but at some point they were all gone and I thought, I really thought, it’s not going to happen again, I’m never going to meet people who are like me and who understand me and who trust me and who I trust. I was told, that all friendships must end in the moment when someone moves to another country, or even city, because friendship demands closeness.

I now know that friendship requires willingness. Friendship takes time and energy. It doesn’t matter how far away or close we are, because we can be close and still move away, and we can be far away and still be close friends.

A gift, from the other side of the world.