generate superficial friendships.
Yes, there are people with hundreds or even thousands of "friends" on Facebook and whatever other like sites there are. People can accumulate thousands of "followers" on Twitter and so on.
But are these people really "friends" or "followers" or whatever else you care to call them?
When I first ventured, very cautiously, into social media I wasn't too sure it was something I wanted to be bothered with. There was the idea of using "Twitter" for work purposes or I probably wouldn't have bothered.
Twitter has been extremely useful for work. It means that aid workers who are out and about "in the field" can contact me quickly at my desk. I can dig out a piece of information, a word, a name, a phone number, a location, or something else. I can do it more quickly and easily than they can. They can concentrate on their job instead. These people are not "friends". Some of them can be complete strangers. It doesn't matter.
But there are other people I have come to know in other ways. Most of them write, some of them write very successfully indeed.
But they don't just write. They read.
I sat down here and wrote a blog post the other morning about my beloved father, the person I refer to as the "Senior Cat". I love him dearly and when he fell in the bathroom I needed to say so - probably in more detail than most people needed.
But it was the response here and on Facebook that stunned me - and him. People have never met him in real life. Only one of you has ever spoken to him on the phone but you were concerned for him. There were messages of concern for him - and me.
It helped me get through a very, very difficult day. Had he hit his head just a little further towards the back of his neck he wouldn't be here. We haven't told him how close it was. I didn't want to think about it at the time but I had to. Being able to sit here and write something and then, more importantly, have people respond in reassuring and caring ways really meant something.
It's not going to happen but I wish you could all meet the Senior Cat so that he could say "thank you" personally. As it is he has asked me to pass on his bemused and bewildered thanks. He can't quite believe "what nice friends (you've) got even if you don't really know them".
Who says virtual, social media friendships can't also be caring ones?
Thank you everyone!