February 21, 2011 10:41:00 AM
Once upon a time, only children had imaginary friends. This was probably because they live rich fantasy lives. One of my favorite cousins truly believed that Dorothy, from "The Wizard of Oz," was her friend. Nevermind that a middle-aged Judy Garland died years before Natalia was born. She often referred to her as, "my friend, Dorothy," and saw her as an innocent young girl from Kansas.
It is easy to think of sitcom characters as real people. They come into our homes and reveal so much about their personal life and quirks. However, as much as we think we "know" the cast of "Friends" or "Seinfeld," the relationship is rather one-sided. We are voyeurs in a world where we do not exist.
Enter, Facebook. Now, reasonably sane adults create complicated connections with people they may, or may not, know. And these people "talk" back.
I have two Facebook accounts. One is strictly business, managed from my office. The other is personal.
The office account has more than 1,600 "friends." These are people who originally connected because they had some interest in Columbus and Lowndes County. But, things often transform into a more personal realm. Some post several times a day, some rarely. Because this is a dialogue, we begin to get a sense of who they are.
I have begun to know about their children and their political views. They share photos of pets, vacations, snowmen, even a sore toe.
I found a great employee for our office, thanks to a post. People have suggested sites that sell some charming New Orleans merchandise or a terrific new restaurant. I know who is working for pet adoptions and who has a wicked sense of humor.
Of course, I have favorites. One of my "friends" is a dog. She is a good-looking, black and white boxer, with a Southern-belle name. Her daddy posts lots of pictures of her. Some are hilarious, with strange hair-dos photo-shopped onto her doggy head.
I have a Facebook friend whose name is almost all consonants and unpronounceable. I cannot figure out what country she lives in (someplace middle-European, I guess). Few of her other friends speak English.
Snjazana posts the most beautiful images of paintings and music. I can''t wait to see what new wonders she will send via the Internet. I am sure we will never meet, but I know she is very artistic, with excellent taste.
There are people whom I have met in person. A darling couple with a fairy-princess of a daughter live only a few blocks from me. We share an interest in preservation and plan a wine tasting on my porch as soon as the weather allows.
My personal account is much less interesting. I have connected with some high school folks and managed to keep in touch with seldom-seen cousins.
I decided to see if there were any others named Adele Elliott on Facebook. As it turns out there are about 20 women with exactly my same name, same spelling. Who knew? I sent a friend request to them all and none want to be my "friend." What an insult!
Once the word "friend" was just a noun, or a Quaker. Imaginary friends were only for children. Now it can be used as a verb (to friend) and we all have imaginary friends.
I send a big greeting to all my friends, real and imaginary, human and all other species. Hope your world is filled with those who are true.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.
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