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Of Friends and Aging

Earlier I posted an excerpt of a response of mine to a Facebook thread by Scott Jordan. This is the full response which encapsulates my thoughts I’ve been trying to put into an essay form for eons without success.

Think of that person you bump into at the mall. Here’s a sentence that is always uttered: “We should get together.” Yes, we “should.” They you part company until the next accidental meeting. It’s about making time. People love to stay “I don’t have the time” but that’s not the case. We “have” all the time between birth and death. It’s about how we choose to spend our time. We don’t “have” time; we “make” time. So when that person in the mall says we “should” get together, whip out a calendar and say “yes, what works for you?” and set a date.

I have 3 friends whom I individually suggested we get together for a beer one evening about three weeks ago yet it hasn’t happened…my fault. I have 5 children, work a full time job, work side projects, and volunteer in a scout troop and a scout pack as well as occasionally giving time to our local zoo, the Epilepsy Foundation, and a couple of other organizations. I have plenty of “excuses” but the truth of the matter is most evenings, I “make” time to lounge around the house with my wife watching television. In essence, I have grown selfish, complacent and self-absorbed.

I think in our single digits we play and play hard and that is good.
In our teen years we fight angst and work through cliques and social situations.
The twenties are great. These are the years of using the knowledge learned in the teens to just have fun. We aren’t trying to game the system or social climb yet. We are comfortable with ourselves and willing to give unconditional time.
The thirties are either aggressive corporate ladder climbing where “who you know matters” so people suddenly gain “value” and therefore you must selectively choose who to spend time with based upon how much you can gain from them OR you have found a comfortably place in your life and are just doing the pattern which like the NYT times article states doesn’t include refilling your pool of friends as it shrinks.
The forties, at least for me, have a huge family first focus. While friends are important, family has to come before all as you realize your children are growing up fast.
I cannot yet comment on the fifties and above without playing off comedic stereotypes.

Then there is this social media stuff. I fear some have succumbed to believe that reading Facebook or Twitter replace the need for physical interaction. I love social media but it is a keyhole peek into someone’s life and may be a false picture. Nothing replaces a hug and a laugh.

[Source, Facebook, Scott Jordan in response to Scott Jordan’s post, Is it just me or does it seem that the older you get the smaller your circle of close friends gets?]

See also: NYT: Friends of a Certain Age, Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?

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Who quit following you on Twitter?

Qwitter and Twitterless are two new services which alert you when followers quit.

Do you use Twitter? Or do you still wonder why people Twitter? I use Twitter to follow the pulse for things that interest me, in particular, I follow:

  1. friends and family
  2. people in Knoxville
  3. some breaking news sources
  4. the movers and shakers in the technology world
  5. ColdFusion and PHP developers (yeah yeah…some of you .NET guys too)

You should be using Twitter to be in the global conversation. Twitter serves everyone differently depending on how you use the service which may be one or more of the following:

  1. Exhibitionists, Voyeurs, Gossips – These are the folks that will send/read a stream of messages about the minutia of daily life
  2. News feeds – These are the folks alerting the world about their experiences with the California fires, or the next big event. These are the newspapers getting the headlines out. These are people like myself alerting others that the Interstate is at a stand still.
  3. Topic Specific – These would be people sharing information about a particular subject. Unlike news feeds these will often include back and forth discussions about the topic.
  4. Spammers – People taking advantage of the tendency to follow those who follow you simply to draw attention to a product or website. The Twitter staff and others are trying to minimize the ability for people to spam through Twitter.
  5. Utility – such as how The RedCross has used Twitter to make accessing the Safe and Well database easier.

Twitter is quick to alert you when you have new followers. If someone decides they want to see your messages, you get an email giving you the opportunity to follow them back. However, when someone decides that you send too many messages, your messages are not interesting, or they are tired of hearing that you had a tuna fish sandwich for lunch again, they quit following you and you never know. Perhaps you notice your numbers have changed and all you can do is wonder if you offended someone. Until now! Two services now tell you when someone quits following your Twitter stream. Qwitter will send you an email whenever someone quits following and simply needs your Twitter username and email address. Twitterless is in beta and requires an invite code. By entering your Twitter username and password, Twitterless will notify you when followers quit. Get an invite code by following @tless. Twitterless has a blog and is developed by Mark Nutter who you can follow on Twitter @marknutter.

Be sure to follow my ramblings on Twitter @djuggler. My Tweets are very stream of consciousness and vary from Knoxville traffic/gas reports, to family happenings, to interesting sightings, some audio or pictorial commentary linked from Utterli in a Tweet, to politics, to tech, and just plain nonsensical babble.

See also: Put @RedCross in your Twitter and Did Chris Brogan just steal my PULSE?!

Update 9Aug2009: @followermonitor has joined the ranks of @tless and Qwitter. Twitterless is working great for me. I have not had a message from Qwitter since like December.

Update 24-Nov-2010: A list of seven such services.