Three years ago, somehow I got pulled into interacting with three former college friends (Class of '67) on Facebook. I mirrored the informality. I left lots of drive-by comments about photos, updates on children and grandchildren, and national events.
Things changed when one member of "The Group" shared with us that her daughter had breast cancer. Our best impluses kicked in. We were there for her. In fact, even though I hadn't seen her in 46 years I made it my business to meet her in Manhattan.
The intimacy continues. To my surprise (and I discussed this at my 12-step meeting on Tuesday evening) I confided that I was depressed. I hadn't done that in decades. Depression is contagious and others run like hell. The Group didn't. Not only that, some others on Facebook chimed in with concern. This was like it used to be when we had cups of coffee with each other in more simple times and somehow felt so much better.
The depression lifted. It always does. But with this latest episode I found out that social media can conjure up the same kind of healing which having a cup of coffee with a friend used to. It just takes time, sometimes years, to figure out the code for how to interact on social media in ways that break open intimacy.