Many consider social media a superficial way to make or maintain friendships; sometimes, however, people form groups who interact, get together at specific destinations and form lasting relationships. Such has been the case for me, as 12 of my Facebook friends decided to take a road trip and meet in Burlington, Vermont.
Prior to departure, everyone selected roommates, made all pertinent reservations and shared daily posts which fueled excitement. I met my two roommates at the airport, and proceeded to the hotel where we rendez-vous’d with the others. Rainy, cold weather failed to dampen spirits. We shared a meal, lively repartee and talked well into the night as we prepared for one of our scheduled activities – the annual University of Vermont/Key Bank marathon. The four-day trip included both planned and spontaneous events, as we attended the marathon, perused the local aquarium, sailed on beautiful Lake Champlain for a scenic boat tour.
Required daily activities included shopping, eating, and staying up talking till all hours of the night. One night designated as ‘movie night’ involved all present to gather in one hotel suite with popcorn, homemade chocolates, candy and cupcakes while watching favorite DVDs.
Most surprising to me was the fact that we all got along so well, almost like we’d known each other for all of our lives. One dear girl had lived in four of the same states I had lived in, in the same vicinity in all four locations – very freaky! We all exchanged phone numbers, addresses and made plans for subsequent trips. Next year, we will reunite for a trip to New Hampshire at a convention for a shared interest. Whenever any of us travel to a new friend’s state of residence, we plan on visiting that person. I felt with the majority of individuals, I made lifelong ties. It didn’t feel like a one-time experience. Heading home I felt a little empty — I was leaving something behind in Vermont as I had created a permanent bond to many of these women. I possess a renewed excitement knowing this experience produced lasting relationships, not superficial ones we see from daily online posts that produce mear glimpses into the life and soul of that person.
Typically, I find Facebook can consume countless hours of time that could be best spent in productive activity. Mind numbing games waste so much. This tool, however, can be used to connect with others in distance places in much more meaningful ways than just sharing daily status updates. Real friendships, real interaction can be fostered when one utilizes this social medial tool in meaningful pursuits.
As one user who regularly wastes time on social media, I expanded my reach out into the world in heart-felt endeavors to connect with people out of my immediate sphere of influence.
Many groups on the Facebook, form based on similar interests, organizational memberships, and may be open or closed groups allowing very specific memberships or public membership. This group where I met my newest friends allows broad membership around a singular interest. Prior to the get-together, members spent considerable time getting to know each other. We didn’t meet random strangers willy-nilly. Considerable planning precipitated participation in this event. In no way am I encouraging random, casual meetings among strangers without applying appropriate precautions.
In general, I feel social media gets a bad wrap, and I must admit, I spend more time on Facebook and Twitter than is necessary for any individual. Just wanted to point out some of the positive, enriching features of this new outlet which appears to be here to stay.