Social Media: Do Facebook & Twitter Change the Face of Friendship?

How many of you spend your days regularly checking on your social media updates? As soon as you wake up? Before you turn off your bedside lamp at night? Even taking your iPad or iPhone into the washroom, so you don’t have to miss what is going on out there in the virtual world? I can hear giggles and see exchanged winks between the guilty ones, but please don’t worry – I’m not judging you or laughing at you – I’d be the first to put my hands up and plead “guilty” :).

Despite all the accusations and bad publicity some social media sites have faced, I am not among those who point the finger at them. On the contrary, I’m devoting this post to promoting them – how many of you regular users can honestly say that they have not changed your lives for the better?

Personally, I joined Facebook on the 25 October 2007. Until the end of 2010, my contacts were limited to those I have actually met, i.e. family and friends. With around 30 odd friends we shared holiday snaps, occasional exchange of lunch and dinner treats, and status updates or special occasion greetings.

This dramatically changed in February 2011, after my first book The Same Moon was published, followed by  Trials of Life. My on-line friends increased more then ten fold in a few short months. By the end of last year, my Facebook friends had climbed to 437, Tweeps at 1860, and GoodReads at 281 (Figures faithfully recorded in my 2011 – End of Year Reflections and Acknowledgements).

Are you still complaining about the Timeline or have you got used to it by now and are actually enjoying its many features? It is a great reminder of my social life on-line, the friends I have met, and perhaps a few I have lost, or deleted intentionally. Another year passes in the blink of an eye and as customary at this time of the year, I am a sentimental soul, as I am prone to reflect and become nostalgic.

On the 12.12.12 (how unique could this date get?),  Facebook offered its users a 2012 Review, with the most significant events in this eventful year. I used that service and I noted that some of my friends did too :) What did you find out about yourself?

I’m not going to boast to you which of my pictures have generated the most discussion, nor which status updates were the most controversial, but I will share with you two special friendships which Facebook highlighted: Firstly, on the 10th of March, I became friends with Sandra Valente (I actually met Sandra before that, as my website clearly indicated that Sandra made her debut appearance there following my interview with a mutual friend Dannie Hill  back in December 2011- it is completely Sandra’s fault that Facebook’s record was ‘wrong’ because she was a late Facebook convert ;)).

However, Sandra deserves this special mention. We have regular DM sessions on Twitter, even during one of the most dramatic events in her life a few months ago. She is someone who takes her time to chat to friends, offering them support where needed. We share a lot in common, and you don’t need to guess which one sits on the top of our list: BOOKS!

Yes, books brought us together, and here are just a few snippets of our on-line friendship: 1) I was her first guest blogger when she opened up her wonderful site to guest posts; 2) She hosted my Land of Hope book tour, designed my logo (see below :) read my book, reviewed it and hosted a give-away; 3) When I visited Korea a couple of months ago, she helped me out with her insightful, two-part guest post on Tips From a Reader Not a Writer (Part Two); 4) She recently spent many of her waking hours as well as sleepless nights going through The Same Moon, after I did a few rewrites with the intention of publishing a paperback in 2013. I also made her cry many sad tears, as well as a few smiles, as she dived in a journey with Pearl, the protagonist in my books :) If you have not read her fabulous Review for The Same Moon, make sure you pop into her site and check it out. Do you think words are enough to show my gratitude to such an amazing woman? I hardly think so!

Sandra’s Simply Sensational Site

The second significant friendship of which Facebook ‘notified’ me was another ‘virtual friend’ I made on the 4th of September 2012, whose Facebook name is Isa Bel, and you will hear me referring her as Maria. This time, Facebook proved accurate – like many of my friends, Maria and I made the initial connection through our mutual love of books, and to be more precise, The Same Moon was the ‘match-maker’. Through the Facebook group of Chongqing (the city I came from, with which Maria has some kind of affinity), our friendship followed, quickly and naturally.

It was because of Maria that I visited Spain a week ago – we had so much fun exploring Southern Spain. I was showered with tremendous hospitality and genuine warmth, and I was left completely and utterly overwhelmed. Gracias, amiga mia :). More posts about Spain and my Spanish friends are promised in the coming weeks, so keep checking in :)!

With Maria in Andalusia, Southern Spain, 2012

I’m not sure how EXACTLY  Facebook managed to pick out Sandra and Maria out of around 200 new friends I have made in 2012 -  a total of 632 as of today. I have a feeling that some people would accuse Facebook for invasion of their privacy. Personally, I don’t care – I was just delighted to welcome them into my life, as I do with many other friends. My Twitter followers are increasing at a steady pace, with around 2660, give or take, GoodReads pals of 604. I know that many of these are just ‘statistics’ and we may never meet in real life (Some I have every intention to hook up with), but does that make them less real or less valuable?

I don’t think so. What do you think? I’d love to hear your stories and your opinions, so do drop me a line below and share your thoughts with me.

Thank you, all my friends on Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, G+, visitors to my websites and elsewhere – You enrich my life in so many ways!  - This post is for you all :)!

About Junying Kirk

I came to Britain from China in 1988. I have worked as an academic, administrator, researcher, teacher and cultural consultant. When not travelling to Courts & Police stations as a professional interpreter, I enjoy reading & writing books, travelling the world and blogging about my adventures :). My 'Journey to the West' trilogy - 'The Same Moon', 'Trials of Life' and 'Land of Hope' - have been published on Amazon (both on Kindle and paperbacks), Smashwords and iBook. I live in Birmingham, UK with my husband.
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9 Responses to Social Media: Do Facebook & Twitter Change the Face of Friendship?

  1. eden baylee says:

    Love the new background on your site, Junying, and agree SM relationships that start as professional ones can turn into more than that. I’ve had the pleasure also to meet several authors, and it’s been no surprise they are every bit as delightful in real life as they are in the virtual world.

    eden

    • Junying says:

      Yes, eden, I know you connected with some amazing people while in New York and at other times, and it is so wonderful when we put faces to those with whom we have been communicating on-tine. You are certainly one of those great bunch of friends who I’ll try to meet up in real life – I look forward to that day, either on American soil or in Europe :)

  2. danniehill says:

    I have to agree with everything you’ve said, Junying. Twitter has made my life better by meeting people I call friends and miss when I don’t hear from them. Sandra is a special person and I do want to meet her in person. Her and her great family. Many are on my list. When I begin sailing again my course and passages may seem odd to some but there will be purpose and goals in my destinations. I would still be a hermit in my cave without friends like you.

    • Junying says:

      Dannie – you’re a sweet soul who I’m proud to call friend – I really do hope that your sailing & future traveling will take you to a point where we’ll share a drink and meal – otherwise I’ll have to come to Thailand :)

  3. WOW! I think for once I’m speechless, and this is all I can come up with. I’ll just say that it’s been wonderful knowing you, Junying, and I’m very lucky our paths crossed! I, too, have made some wonderful friends on Twitter followed by FB (Dannie Hill included :D), although I’m still not 100% sure how FB works! I may have the hang on other things, but this one constantly confuses me. :D There is always so much going on – I can’t keep up. It’s all good though, so I’m pleased I finally ventured into that ‘world’.

    As for everything else, it’s been a pleasure. True, although you make me smile throughout your books, you make me cry ten times more. :p I’m sure the day will come when we all meet, and you know who I’m talking about.

    It’s been a great year, despite the not so good stuff.

    Glad to have met you – you’re a special friend, and I know we will be friends for many years to come! Thank you. xx

    • Junying says:

      Sandra, I know you’ve been always busy, and especially so at this time of the year – I’m delighted to see you here – I am certainly aware of the fact that it’s more likely to find you on Twitter than Facebook :)

      I also know that I owe you a good supply of tissues – I may take a leaf from Natasha’s book and post you some next year :)

      Here is to the continued growth of our friendship and may you enjoy a fantabulous Christmas and New Year!

      Thanks for being my beautiful and supportive friend :)!

      • Hip, hip, hooray! I’ll drink to that. :D

        Right back at you, Junying. :)

        Wishing both you and John a wonderful and glorious Christmas, and a wicked 2013!!! As in ‘good’ wicked, lol.

        xxx

        • Junying says:

          Cheers, Sandra :)

          Interesting how I notice strange coincidences and numbers today – your above comment was recorded as my 800th and you know 8 is the luckiest Chinese number?

          May you and yours have an equally wicked celebration this holiday season :)! May 2013 bring you everything you wish for and more :)!

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