I’ve noticed something interesting in meeting people who have made a big move. Technology can be the biggest help and the worst hindrance when it comes to putting down roots in a new place.
This is not a “boo, hiss, social media” post. We were so thankful for social media, skype, email and texting and how it helped our family with our move from Minnesota to Tennessee 4 years ago. We were able to find support structures, read about people who successfully relocated, connect with people who could help us and even scout out churches by looking at how they presented themselves online.
We were able to make some important connections. By blogging about our moving experience, we’ve been able to help others who have moved as well. I have several friends that I first “met” because they did a google search about moving and found themselves on our site and decided to email and ask some questions about our experience.
The down side to technology is that it can get in the way of making friends in your new hometown.
Sometimes A Crisis Reveals The Importance Of Local Connections
It’s amazing that we can stay in contact with friends even when we live 15 hours away (or maybe even half a world away). We feel like we’re connected because we’re interacting with them online. When we’re having a terrible day, it’s never been easier to pull out our phones and text our BFF.
These are real and meaningful relationships.
However, if you’ve been continuing to pour most of your relational energy into your friends 900 miles away, there will come a point when you realize you are really missing the face-to-face, in-person friendships. You might not notice it until all the dust settles or an emergency comes up, but when you do it’s a really lonely feeling.
About a year after we moved, my husband developed Bell’s Palsy. His stroke-like symptoms were alarming. At 8:00 at night I needed to figure out how to get Nathan to the doctor while our 3 small children were in bed. All the connections to friends in MN were useless to us in that moment. We didn’t know a lot of people, but we called the ones we knew. In a funny sequence of events, a local friend checked her messages, heard we needed help and ended up driving all over town checking every urgent care and ER she could think of until she found us.
If we hadn’t spent time developing relationships locally, that story would have never happened.
You Need Local Friends
Who will you use on all the forms that ask for an emergency contact? What will you do when you need someone to watch your kids for 5 minutes while you run a quick errand? When you’re sick and can’t get out of bed and your husband has no PTO left, your far-away friends wont be able to help. When it’s time to celebrate baptisms and births, don’t you want someone physically sitting by you?
Someone In Your New Town Needs Your Friendship
What if you’re perfectly content with Skyping your sister in Alaska and have the resources to fly back “home” when you’re feeling alone? You might not be feeling lonely, but connecting locally isn’t just about fulfilling your own friendship needs. Someone who lives in your neighborhood, goes to your church or whose child plays baseball with yours is lonely. She doesn’t have a sister to call or the money to visit family this summer.
God didn’t move me to Tennessee if His plan was for me to be content with just keeping my friends back in Minnesota. Part of creating a life here has meant saying, “Yes” to new friendships while still treasuring my long-time far-away friends.
But I Tried Reaching Out And No One Seems Interested
That hurts, doesn’t it? I’ve hosted dinner parties that bombed. I’ve invested in friendships that didn’t end up being as close as I hoped. I’ve waited days for texts to be acknowledged. It feels yucky. All the insecure junior high feeling come rushing back.
Maybe you’ve gone on too many “first dates” with friends that have gone badly and you’re ready to wash your hands of this new place and declare it full of insincere and unfriendly people.
You could give up, but I hope you don’t.
Certain life stages and personalities make it harder to make friends. Harder doesn’t mean impossible. I’ve found that some of my closest friendships developed in places I wasn’t expecting.
It’s tricky, but it’s possible to juggle the old and new friendships, right? It’s like the old song goes: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”
What do you think? Have you seen technology get in the way of making local connections?