The ‘Friends’ You Know
When we were younger most of us grew up with a general sense of trust and always looked for the best in people. Some of us outgrew that with age and experience. Some of us keep a general sense of those two traits no matter what life’s experiences have taught us. I guess it’s from not wanting to become jaded or by just needing to feel like there has to be some kind of good left in the world and in people.
Life experience has taught me better but I still find myself being too trusting with people I believe I ‘know’ or in giving folks the benefit of the doubt – that is, until they prove me wrong. This is especially true for me after I began my recovery and my Christian walk in faith.
There’s nothing in my life that has happened that should have made me stray from my original cynical scrutiny of people. Now, let me explain why…people in general are lost, broken creatures who behave, react and respond from their emptiness and brokenness. Some never escape it even when they do get clean, sober or find God. Their basic instincts can still be predatory in nature.
I can explain many truths of various areas in the dark parts of my journey that life experience has taught me. I can give you a specific list of do’s and don’ts. I can list a host of things that can be unprofessional, unethical and unchristian like. So can many others.
What myself or others can’t teach is morality, integrity, character, common sense, or even human decency. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t force him to drink. If you try that horse may only drag you down in the undertow as he fights and drowns.
All of your ‘friends’ or ‘family’ on social media don’t always have your best interests at heart. Some of these folks are nosy, they’re hateful and just negative joy-sucking leeches or dysfunctional toxic people. Some you may know from high school, they may be lifelong friends, family, etc. However, how well do you actually know even them?
How much one on one time have you recently spent with any of these individuals? Do you know the people they are now, in their everyday lives? How do they treat their children? How do they treat their spouse or significant other? How do they treat animals or pets? Now, I specifically mean things you have seen or heard with your own eyes and ears on a regular basis. I am not referring to rumors gathered from the online community.
What are the Christian or spiritual beliefs of these people you ‘know’? Political or social beliefs? How do their personal convictions compare to yours? How do they live them out? How important are these areas to you and how important should they be? I’m by no means a good person all of the time, let alone a perfect Christian or a perfect spiritual person. I have never claimed to be perfect. Some of my indifferences though I know to be too much for some people to handle – I respect that.
With this being said, how about those ‘friends’ you have on social media that you have never even met in person, let alone spent any real quality time with? How well do you ‘think’ you know them or who they portray themselves to be online? Do they live up to any one of the things I mentioned above? Are they even halfway decent human beings in real life? Are they safe to be around? Are they safe to have around your children? Are they into drugs? Are they violent? Could they possibly even be a predator?
How do you know if you’ve never spent any real life quality time with them? Do you feel you know them well enough that you would use the integrity of your own name to support or defend them if need be?
I have friends all across America and halfway across the world that I have never met in person. I love, cherish and value every single one of them that has been in my life as a loving, supportive and encouraging voice. However, here’s the truth of it…they could be extremely violent, severely mentally deranged, a serial killer, a toxic drama fest or even a sexual predator. Honestly, I’d never have a clue without spending time with them one on one as well as watching them interact with others!
I recently had to learn this lesson the hard way. However, it also could have gone far more sideways than it did! The worst part is that because I let my guard down, I didn’t see the signs. I reverted back to naivety and blindly trusting someone like this and it affected someone else.
Again, it could have been far worse. Truthfully, the way things happened was the best possible scenario. It gave both of us clarity and to reiterate this lesson learned with no real harm being done. It was all in God’s plan and timing. Right now, this is what I have to keep reminding myself because of the self-guilt and self-doubt I am now experiencing. This situation of course has triggered many instances, feelings, and memories linked to my past and my PTSD. I’m aware of that and can handle that fact accordingly. However, with a clear conscious couldn’t NOT remind others to watch who you call ‘FRIEND.’
Male or female, the human race can still be vile, evil, sick animals. This isn’t about being cynical or jaded, it’s about being aware of the people you let get closer to you than maybe you should. Just how well do you know the people you call your friend? Do you know each person well enough that you would endorse them dating your daughter, your son, your sister, your brother, or even your mother or father?
Let’s not pretend that men can’t be victims here either, by the way. This can happen to anyone. How about your spouse? Is the person that is potentially going to be around those you cherish most in this world capable of passing the test of being alone with those you love? These ‘friends’ that could one day be in your home, around your family, around your children….visiting after years of ‘knowing them online’ – are they really who they say they are?
“Keep your enemies close and your friends closer.”