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On Friendship in the Age of Social Networking — 18 Comments

  1. Marilyn,

    What a great post! I enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoy talking with my fellow Janeites on Facebook. I cannot tell you how much they enrich my life. I live far from my family – I guess you know I am from Brazil – so this social networking plays a very important part of my life. What a fun idea to imagine Elizabeth and Charlotte Facebook pages and interactions!

    • Rita,
      Yes! I knew you were from Brazil, but I hadn’t realized what a big part Facebook and social networks were for you 🙂 . It’s actually amazed me many times when I start thinking about how many online friends I have that live in countries aside from mine — friends in the UK, continental Europe, Australia, Asia, South America, etc. I’ll often be up too late at night in Chicago and posting something, thinking that no one will see it until the morning, but of course, it’s already morning in so many other places, LOL. I’ve found it SO delightful to get to immediately chat with Austen friends and other people across the globe just because we now have this incredible technology. Thank you for being one of those friends!!

      • You’re welcome. I have used Facebook since 2008 but it was not until 2011 when I found the Janeite world that it became essential to my daily life. Who else can understands the pangs of being a Janeite? Only another one, right? It got worse in 2012 when I started the page http://www.facebook.com/allthingsjaneausten. Things got a little out of control. I wanted to do nothing else in my spare time. The husband had to make an “intervention” LOL. Then I slowed down but the amount of people responding to my page was fantastic. It just passed 7,000 fans and I couldn’t be more delighted connecting with people from places like Hungary or Pakistan, Greece and Latvia. The Jane Austen Power still amazes me. It shouldn’t but it does. The technology increased her power exponentially and we are all richer for it! Thanks for being one of those friends, as well!

        • Rita,
          The Jane Austen Power is an amazing, wondrous thing!!
          And I love your All Things Jane Austen FB page, btw! You’ve done a fabulous job with it. I’m one of those 7,000+ fans 🙂 .

  2. Social media is a double-edged sword, but I like to dwell on the good side of it. Without groups like Facebook and Twitter (and various fan fiction sites), I would never have connected with so many people who share my interests. Most of my RL friends are not interested in the same things as me, so it is wonderful to be able to chat with and share with others. As well, I have been able to connect with friends and family that I had long ago lost touch with via the standard method of communications. As an introverted person, it has widened the world. By the way, don’t be embarrassed of your fingerless gloves. I have Reynaud’s and wear such things so often that most people don’t even look twice at them anymore. And of course, socks to bed!

    • Wendy,
      You’re definitely right!! Social media is a double-edged sword. It can be dangerous for those people who aren’t as discreet as they should be online. And it’s a black hole of time drainage for most everyone. In my case, I know, I *know* I should be writing right now (or sleeping — it’s after 11pm here), but I tell myself, “I’ll just peek in on FB one more time…and visit the AVA blog just to see if there are any new comments…and…” Soon, hours have gone by, LOL. I’m an introvert, too (and I’m currently wearing my fingerless gloves — I have them in 3 colors now 🙂 ), but I feel as you do about the way social media opens up the world. Even all these years later, I’m still amazed at how an Austen community like ours could come into existence, filled with readers from all over. It’s been quite a gift to have a place like this where we can share of our of JA and her writing!

  3. I have had a deep love of Jane Austen’s work for years. Being able to talk with others who share my passion is wonderful. I have no one where I live to really share my thoughts with when it comes to books. I truely enjoy being part of this community.

    • schilds~
      I’m glad you’re here!! And I think we’re all definitely in the right place here when it comes to sharing the love of Austen… I’m fortunate that my husband (because he double majored in English and history) had an appreciation for P&P and had read the book, but I only have a handful of friends in real life who’d read one of her novels and even fewer who were JA fans — at least until I joined JASNA and met all of you wonderful people online, too 😀 .

  4. Interesting post Marilyn. I’m one who is not on FB or Twitter either. I have gotten a ‘smartphone’ which I enjoying using to text my family though and send/receive pictures on. I email and ocassionally still write letters to lifelong friends and of course family. I do love connecting with everyone on this wonderful blog site and having a common interest in anything Jane Austen!

    As for how our literary characters would take to this social networking, I agree that Charlotte would be very careful with what she posts and Emma would be on it constantly!

    • Carole~
      Oh, my goodness, yes!! Emma with a social media account of any kind would be a fearsome creature indeed, LOL. My younger brother is someone who also isn’t on either Facebook or Twitter. He’d tried FB, found it was too time consuming for him and, also, hated that it could be hacked. So he deleted his account. But he’s in a profession (statistics) where he focuses his attention on emails and conference calls where everyone is analyzing data. In his free time, he’s an athlete and runs — a lot!! So, for his passions, he’s interacting with a lot of people daily already and probably feels less of a need to connect with like-minded friends around the globe than I do 🙂 .

      BTW, I love that you still write letters! I have a friend I made when I visited Australia back when I was 20. She was in her late 60s then, and now is in her early 90s (!!) and she’s not into email or any social media. So we still write letters back and forth, and I cherish every one. It’s still so exciting to get a personal note in the mailbox!!

  5. Marilyn, I love this post and I have a suspicion you have a webcam looking at me when I’m “relaxing at home”. The outfit you describe is a more or less exact match to mine, even down to the fingerless gloves. Mind you, I often need the full finger ones at times!

    Social media….hmmmmm. I’ve only really just got going with FB in the last few months and can see how it could take over your life if you’re not careful. As to Twitter, I’m not going there for now. Maybe when I retire. Or maybe not. Hubby won’t ever go there with the whole social media thing, from what he’s said.

    We have friends all over the world where the preferred method of communication for both sides is by good old-fashioned snail mail. The letters may be word processed on a computer and laser or ink jet printed nowadays, but they can run to several pages of A4. It gives us and them a chance to have a good old ponder over things we’ve all said and experienced recently; to answer and ask questions and just have a good old waffle on about stuff and things! You can’t always (or indeed, ever) do these on FB, Twitter, Skype and such like.

    However, I’ve just discovered this place. Now, I’ve had a very careful count up of people I know who appreciate the works of Jane Austen. After several attempts, I only got as high as ONE. She sat with me through a horrific thunderstorm (in Yorkshire, in August) at an open air production of P & P a few years ago but sadly we’ve lost touch in recent times, so it’s now down to zero. So you folks, writers and readers, are a wonderful discovery. I’m also quite new to the world of JAFF and variations. Now, I have rapidly growing wish list for my iPod (to listen to when I have a driving commute or cooking) and Kindle (for when I have a public transport commute or just want a good sit down read) – yes I’m a gadget freak, too.

    I think Lydia Bennet would be one of those terribly indiscreet people one comes across who would Tweet or post every last thing she did, even down to her elopement, just as they left Brighton. Jane would always be cautious and not show her true feelings (of course), Kitty would be a toned-down Lydia, Mary probably very serious (or try to appear so) but Elizabeth, to my mind, might not want to get involved at all. Not because she’s reluctant to try things but due to the “first impressions” feeling. The men of P & P are more difficult to read and I’d love to see suggestions about them.

    Better go now, it’s 11pm here and the internet has just eaten into the evening yet again.

  6. Anji,

    Thank you so much for your long and thoughtful reply!! And I’m so glad I have a twin (right down to the gloves!) just across the ocean, LOL! These are the kinds of fun things we can discover about each other through online dialogue 🙂 . Part of what’s so interesting and delightful about it to me is — really and truly — that the more we learn about each other (even silly little details), the more we realize that, in so many ways, we’re all far more alike than we are different. I love that!

    I very much enjoyed reading your speculations about what the Bennet sister might do in regards to social media. Lydia, oh heavens!!! Yes, I think “terribly indiscreet” would be the perfect description! 😀

    As far as knowing people who appreciate the works of Austen, in everyday life, many of us know only a handful in our respective regions…but the virtual world will amaze you by comparison! Hundreds of us just on the Facebook page for Austen Variations and the several other Austen-related sites… It’s such a wonder to be able to connect like this!! Welcome to the Austen community!

  7. I find it interesting on your perspective on how each of the Bennet sisters would’ve handled social networking and I agree with your assessment. I find it a great way to communicate with people who share my reading interests…very few people I personally know read or enjoy what I do….glad to have found Austen Authors and thank everyone who has continued onto this site. I also had the experience at getting to know other people who are interested in alternative energy for vehicles, etc….especially fuel cells and have met people through social networking who are also interested…especially in hydrogen… and made fast friends thousands of miles away…people I also never would have met…

    • Deborah,
      Thank you so much for reading my post and taking time to comment, too. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! And I’m truly thrilled that our global technology has given us all a way to converse. Some of the most bighearted and supportive people I’ve ever met anywhere are those I’ve become acquainted with through the Austen community — both writers and readers alike!
      🙂

  8. You raise a valid point Marilyn. I don’t think relationships would have been the same if they had one social media outlet let alone the 16 or so we have now.

    • Chanpreet~
      Exactly! I just think back (not even so long ago) to the 1980s when I was in high school…versus today when my son is a teen. It’s just SO different — not only interacting with your friends but, also, with a potential love interest. I feel like I grew up in the Dark Ages sometimes. I mean, we actually wrote NOTES to each other, on paper and everything, LOL. And if a guy was interested in a girl (or vice versa) and one called the other one on the phone, there was no backpedaling on the intention. You didn’t call someone without a reason. Maybe a guy would call a girl if they were working on a class project together, or if one needed to pass along some extracurricular club information to the other. But if you called to just chat…it was because you LIKED that person. Nothing vague about it. These days, with FB updates, tweets and especially texting, it can be *really hard* to get a read on whether a girl/guy wants to talk to YOU…or if she/he just wants to TALK virtually. A LOT has changed in only 30 years… I can’t imagine what JA would make of all this 200 years after her era. 😉

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