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Archive for April 26th, 2009

Robbie ... a photo of an old friend, by an old friend ...

Robbie ... a photo of an old friend, by an old friend ...

There has never been any doubt that I’m social.

My brother once remarked, perhaps disparagingly, that there is NO ONE I won’t talk to. Although that’s not completely accurate, I do believe that I can learn something through conversations with most people, even if we don’t happen to speak a common language.

So, no surprise that I’ve taken to online social networks like a termite to timber. Not only have platforms like facebook, myspace and Twitter allowed me to reconnect with friends I’d thought I’d lost forever, new people have come into my life … people I don’t want to imagine being without.

I hadn’t spoken to my high school bud, Virginia in 30-some years, but now we’re in touch almost daily. Robbie, my bbff and neighbor in a previous life had all but disappeared from my radar until he joined fb and skype, but we now wet ourselves on a regular basis and give each other stomach cramps from the laughs we share.

My cyber sister, Jo, and I have never met, but our lives intersect sometimes hourly, and I’ve yet to meet anyone who thinks my exact thoughts as often as she does.

Thanks to the Internet, my love life is … well … lovely, or as lovely as long distance relationships can be.

A week or so ago I trimmed my facebook friend list by 100, as I’ve arbitrarily set a max of 500 and had exceeded that limit. I’m already back up to 450, so I may have to up my quota, but even though this can stretch me a bit thin I do have some level of closeness to each and every one of the people who poke and chat and banter and comment on my status as if they cared.

My up-close-and-in-person friend clan is large, too, and even though scattered around the world, we remain close. I’ve not seen Michael in years, nor Magnar in months, but I have a pretty good idea of what’s up with them, and they with me.

Turns out, that all this friend stuff may keep me and my friends alive.

As this article in the NYT reports, that’s just what friends do.

Researchers are only now starting to pay attention to the importance of friendship and social networks in overall health. A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends.

And luckily for some of us, the role of friends is even more important than that of a spouse.

Bella DePaulo, a visiting psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, whose work focuses on single people and friendships, notes that in many studies, friendship has an even greater effect on health than a spouse or family member. In the study of nurses with breast cancer, having a spouse wasn’t associated with survival.

(I think I’ll tattoo that somewhere: … having a spouse isn’t associated with survival. Funny thing is, that’s exactly what all my friends told me when Mark bailed, bless them!)

Anyway …

Friends. I love mine.

Now, if I could only get that damned Rembrandts song out of my head …

Photo credit: Trudy Fisher

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