Real Connection in a Digital World

Can we build deep friendships in a shallow world of online communication?

When I first met Lucy Maud Montgomery's beloved heroine in Anne of Green Gables, I knew I had found my kindred spirit. I related to Anne Shirley's fiery temper, uncanny ability for "getting into scrapes," fast-flying tongue, and roller-coaster emotions that quickly move from the heights of rapture to the depths of despair. But most of all, I identified with Anne's desire for a close female friend. In Anne of Green Gables, she asks her mom, Marilla,

"Do you think that I shall ever have a bosom friend in Avonlea?"

"A—a what kind of friend?"

"A bosom friend—an intimate friend, you know—a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul. I've dreamed of meeting her all my life. I never really supposed I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true all at once that perhaps this one will too. Do you think it's possible?"

Here in the real world, many of us wonder if our own longing to connect will ever be satisfied. With all of the technological advances we've made in the century since Montgomery penned her classic tales, you would think we would have figured out a way to meet the human yearning for deep friendships. We spend our days connecting with one another on the World Wide Web. We touch base with more people through social networking websites like Facebook than Montgomery probably encountered in her lifetime. Yet many of us are still asking ourselves, Why do I have so many acquaintances and so few close friends?

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May 25

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