While I sat in the waiting room at the doctor’s office yesterday I read an article about friends in one of the health magazines. For those of you cringing, let’s stop right now so I can reassure you that yes, I’m aware of the danger of touching a magazine in a doctor’s waiting room. And yes, I’ve seen Contagion; a blog for another day. My doctor gets multiple copies of one particular publication and there was a fresh stack of at least six of the latest issue and I pulled out the third from the bottom. It looked quite pristine and the pages were still crisp, so I think I was as safe with it as I was sitting in the chair or breathing the air. I digress…
The article made the statement that people with more than 300 friends on social media sites such as Facebook were found to have more development in certain areas of the brain, and are considered smarter, in general, than those without such connections, and that their brains compared favorably with people who have multiple friends in the real world. Apparently previous studies have already shown that the brains of “social” people are different from those of reclusive people. What seems to have researchers stumped for the time being is which came first- the brain development or the friendships. Are smarter people more aggressive in seeking out others, or do our multiple interactions with others and therefore other ideas, activities, and values, develop more of our brain? You can decide for yourself.
I only know that my recent experience with internet problems made my attachments to others very clear. I am by nature an independent person and quite content to spend hours and days alone. So I was surprised by the depth of my concern for what was going on in the lives of my friends during my absence. I wasn’t doing much that I felt compelled to share, other than taking some photos of spring, but I was beside myself a couple of days wondering about the impending arrival of babies, the health of some ill friends, and the safety of those traveling. I also wanted to ask someone a question about a recent project and had no way to do so! So frustrating! I am still “catching up” on pages and blog posts.
There are about 600+ people that I keep in touch with at least annually. Half of those are people I’ve actually met, known, and had some relationship with in the past (I’ve moved 51 times). Others are friends of friends. About 200 are genealogy contacts. There are about 100 people that I keep in close contact with and “talk” to frequently via email, FB, or letter. Yes, I still write snail mail. Someone has to keep those people employed! I don’t think I keep in touch with these people because of my brain, but because of theirs. They have enriched my life beyond measure! There are things I know and have done that are a direct result of my friendship with someone else. There are so many changes I’ve made in my life because of others.
I had the opportunity recently to see a friend that I hadn’t visited with in at least six months- an elderly neighbor who hasn’t been out and about much. She is 90+ and not as active as she was just a few years ago. I was thrilled to talk to her and hug her neck. She has brought joy to my life since I was a small child and I am blessed just to look out my window and see her home across the pastures from us. I can barely see her house and she can barely see mine, but she says she watches for my porch light. That instant rush of joy and love I felt when I saw her is why we form friendships! I don’t know about the brain research, but I can tell you that my heart is stronger and better because of my relationships with others.
So, I will end this by saying that I value each and every one of you! I am grateful for the contribution each of you makes to my life….and the growth of my brain… and I hope that I do the same for you!
BTW- Doctor’s visit- for those of you waiting for the end of the foot saga…nothing much to report. My lab tests show that I’m as healthy as a horse and there is nothing wrong with my body that would create the pain I still have in my foot. However, my primary physician ascribed the swelling to one of my medications and suggested some changes. I can tell you that the results are noticeable this morning. Let that be a lesson to you!!! Always consider your medications, especially recent ones, when trying to diagnose any health problems. I was so caught up in my “foot problem” and so intent on my orthopedic care, that I completely forgot that I have been taking a new blood pressure drug for a few months. (My blood pressure is still a serious issue.) A few more tests left to try to determine the underlying cause of my foot discomfort. But I am one happy woman after the lab results!!!