In my Facebook milieu, a "friend" is my kids, the woman I'm dating (we're much more than that), several confidants, faraway family members, a clutch of close colleagues at work and vigilant neighbors across the street.
But it also includes long-lost high-school classmates I haven't set eyes on in 35 years, ex-in-laws who probably don't really like me much anymore, a neighbor I wave to across the alley without ever remembering his kids' names and the woman who found our strayed cat — plus a lot of people I never have met, whose "friend" status is only a shared or common interest, such as collecting Charles Lindbergh autographs.
At last count, I was up to 1,299 "friends." Don't be impressed. That's a drop in the Facebook bucket. A billion of us worldwide now use it, whatever that means.
Wall Street hasn't figured it out, either, judging from a deflated stock price that's half of what it was the day Facebook went public earlier this year. (I didn't buy any then and don't plan to now.) It is way too easy to make "friends" on Facebook.
But there's no doubt I am connected in ways I didn't think my "friends" noticed — until Oct. 12, when I posted this on my personal Facebook page:
"Eighteen years ago this morning, I stood at the turning point, facing a perplexing question, 'Now what?' I could not answer it. And in that moment, I realized the utter futility of my repeated attempts to stay on top of my addiction to alcohol and other drugs, the hopelessness of my predicament and the flowing fear that I was about to drown.
So I stopped doing it my way. I started to do it the way so many others have over the decades. It worked. It still works, for 18 years now, one day at a time — despite the imperfections of my own humanness, too. It works because I work it. Because I don't work it alone, instead following the path of my fellow travelers.
Because I trust that my Higher Power can do for me what I cannot do for myself. Today I am grateful for where I am in my life. The journey hasn't been easy. I've hit bottom stone-cold sober a few times these past 18 years. But I don't doubt the effort is worth every single experience — good or bad — and I would not trade my life today for anything."