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Many of us have lots of friends on social media, but how many of them are real friends?

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Many of us have lots of friends on social media, but how many of them are real friends? Photo Store

It’s been said that there are six degrees of separation between any two given people.

In Winnipeg, it’s more like one or two degrees. Just start a conversation and wait for the commonalities to pop up.

I recall a trip to Florida in the eighties with two of my sorority sisters, when we started talking to a group of American nursing students on the plane. They began with, "I know someone from Canada — maybe you know them."

As we rolled our eyes, we tried to explain that Canada is actually quite large and the odds are that we wouldn’t know this individual. Of course, we did (so much for squashing that cliché). This is why I find it so much fun to chat with complete strangers. After five minutes, the world doesn’t seem so huge and impersonal.  

At a more recent sorority gathering, we were excited to locate a member who had joined a chapter in the U.S. 50 years ago, moved to Winnipeg to raise her family, and somehow fell off the radar. Quite by chance, I knew someone with the same last name, asked if she knew her, and discovered that they were related. We met two days later, and realized that we’d known each other from 35 years ago at the South YM-YWCA. Small world.

I’ve always felt that Winnipeg is more of a big town than a city. That’s part of its charm. In a larger metropolitan centre, we could get lost in the crowd. But Winnipeg offers everyone the opportunity to celebrate their individuality, and when the parts are healthy, the entire group will prosper.

My question for the day: Is your circle of friends larger because of today’s social media sites? How many are actually your friends? It may feel overwhelming with Facebook posts, emails sent to entire address lists, tweets to 200 followers, and access to the world wide web. We literally "know" more people than ever before.

Some may be true friends, but many are simply contacts we’ve gained by association. Remember, no matter what technological advances we enjoy, you can’t beat an intimate, sit-down conversation. If you choose to spend your time connecting with friends and family in a personal, meaningful way, you’ll never have to regret moments lost.

Wanda Prychitko is a community correspondent for St. James-Assiniboia. Contact wprychitko@yahoo.ca

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