Eye-Opening Moments Podcast

Virtual vs. Real Friends (and more)

August 22, 2023 Emily Kay Tan Episode 82
Eye-Opening Moments Podcast
Virtual vs. Real Friends (and more)
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Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about Old Memories Make New Memories and Virtual vs. Real Friends.

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Hello and welcome to episode #82 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Old Memories Make New Memories and Virtual vs. Real Friends.

Old Memories Make New Memories
If I were to write a book sequencing each major event at each age of my life, ages one to four would be blank. I can't remember anything during that time. However, I do remember particular periods which impacted my life significantly. Why do I want to remember what I forgot? I want to analyze and find meaning in this life of mine before I expire. New memories can be made, created, or designed from lessons learned from the past.

When I was five, Mom sent me to live with Grandma Sandy. That one act has impacted my life significantly. From that moment forward, the five-year-old me decided that I was an unwanted and unloved human being. That little girl decided she needed to fend for herself and protect herself because she felt dumped. I may not remember the five-year-old's mind, but I can see it in the many things that have happened in my life.

Five marriage proposals never made me feel loved; I never believed anyone truly loved me. How could I be loved when Mom tossed me at five? Feeling unwanted, I ended up living alone. There is solace in living alone; I never have to be told that I don't belong or am unwanted somewhere. Instinctively feeling the need to protect and fend for me as a matter of survival, I exude an aura that says, "Don't mess with me; if you do, I will fight back." The result was a me that people feared. I thought this sad but later realized that it was this five-year-old who protected me all this time into my mature age.

Despite the negative impact of Mom's action, there were also positive outcomes. Being tossed made me strive to do things to show I was worthy. Feeling unwanted made me do something or act in ways to make me unique. Perhaps it was my way of making myself wanted and loved. Trashed to fend for myself, I became fiercely independent at a young age. I walked to the school bus stop by myself at eight. I took the subway out of the city countless times at twelve. I talked to a lawyer and found a way to fund my college education at age seventeen. Armed with my aura of "Don't mess with me" look, I kept myself safe and protected myself from danger as I roamed the streets alone to explore or escape home life.

Remembering what happened and how it has impacted my life has helped in the understanding of why I behave the way I do up to the present. Memories of the past do matter. They teach lessons that can give way to creating more positive stories. Having the power to plan or create new memories that will leave a more positive feeling can yield peace of mind.

Experienced in fending for myself and protecting myself developed from a young age; it helped to contribute to creating new memories that left me feeling content. As a mature woman, I traveled alone all over Asia without major problems. From country to country, I roamed with a child's curiosity while protecting myself with the stance of a lion. I asked questions to learn, find places, or sort out any issues as any fearless and independent lady would do. Those bad childhood experiences supplied valuable skills that contributed to happy travel experiences.

Part of fending for myself included deducing that I was alone to solve my problems. If I wanted to survive, live another day, and prove that I didn't need Mom, who tossed me out, I had to find a way to solve all my problems. Waiting or hoping for help was not considered because it was assumed that it would not come. Solutions were in my hands. That attitude quickly formed in the five-year-old me. It propelled me to solve one problem after another, no matter how difficult. 

After quitting a successful career to go into business, I failed miserably during the global economic downturn in 2008. I was in dire straits with little money in hand, no job, and no business. With the attitude that only I would be there to get myself out of the problematic situation, I knew it was up to me. Once more, the attitude developed as a child saved me. I pulled out my creative skills and got the idea to work abroad and have a fresh new start. Soon I got a job abroad and moved to start anew. The remembered trauma of being thrown away at age five created the attitude that solutions were up to me. This attitude drove me to a swift resolution, and I got the chance to enjoy living on an island nation in paradise for some years. The developed attitude from the past helped create positive new memories.

Feeling unwanted and unloved as a child prompted me always to strive to do better at whatever I did. As an adult, I continue taking classes and seminars to learn new things and self-improve. Taking personal development classes also contribute to building character and helping others. The sad childhood feelings led me to be a lifelong learner. Surely, all the new things I learn to keep my mind active will help me avoid Alzheimer's disease. And there is much joy in learning new things.

The remembered childhood trauma helped me develop critical life skills. Those skills have supplied the essential qualities to create new memories for an enriched life.

Remembering when I returned to live with my parents at age fourteen, I was unexpectedly in for a shock. Growing up with Grandma Sandy, who was poor, taught me the value of hard work, saving for a rainy day, studying hard, and creating self-worth. Living with Mom and Dad from fourteen to sixteen taught me that money could solve problems, make others like or envy you, and that it determines your worth. Exposed to two sets of values, I grappled with them in an attempt to decide which was the best.

After some years of working in one career, I decided to try my hand at business as an independent contractor. Crowds of entrepreneurs inspired by successful leaders at a national convention inspired me to be interested in the financial industry. Through the company, I learned how people behaved on their climb to making money. I saw what happened when they made money and what they did when they made it. The distaste reminded me of Mom and Dad. They were once poor, struggled, and made it to be a comfortable middle-class family. Many of the successful people I saw earned six to seven-figure incomes. While their incomes were commendable, the characters of who they had become were reprehensible. 

Learning of my parents' values in my teenage memories and seeing many more people with similar values and their resulting behaviors as an adult has left me with much food for thought. It has helped me create new memories that would allow me to be at peace with what I was doing with money and the place I gave money in my life. Money is needed for the many things we want, and we need it to buy what we need and want. However, we need not flaunt it. It does not necessarily make others like or envy us. With solid self-worth, there is no need to try to impress others or present a façade of worthiness. I will continue to work for an income as needed for daily life. But I will focus more on developing and improving my character. At the end of the day, it is me who has to live with myself. What others think of me is of no significance.

Lessons learned from old memories can help design positive new memories when we choose to put them to good use. Old, new, good, and bad memories combine to make a life lived monotonous-free.

Virtual vs. Real Friends
You could say that you can find friends anywhere on the planet because it is well-populated with people, and with today's technology, you can reach them anytime. Though billions of people exist, you can't meet them all. Thus, who you meet virtually or in person is extraordinary, so you should give some attention to your limited number of encounters.

I have noticed some interesting differences between having virtual and real friends.

I have known my real friend, Celeste, for many years, but I couldn't say we have had many lengthy conversations. Because we meet in person, we chat, eat, shop, take a stroll and do a string of other things that distract us from deep conversations. Other people could also interrupt us from having any meaningful dialogues. Cell phones, text messaging, social media, and time spent online can also stop us from engaging in substantial talk.

Once, while in the car with Celeste, I shared what I had talked about with my virtual friend Kimmy. Before I could finish my story, I was interrupted by her spouting profanity at another driver, who cut her off as she was listening to me and driving simultaneously. I continued with my story, and then she got a phone call, which she answered. Eventually, I finished my story, and she said, "Hey, I never knew that; you never told me that before."

This small instance left me with much food for thought. One, I had known my real friend Celeste for decades, and I had known Kimmy, my virtual friend, for less than a year. And yet Kimmy knew a lot more about my life than Celeste. Two, it was sad that Celeste knew less about me than Kimmy. It was sad because it said that though I had spent lots of time with Celeste over the years, it was perhaps not quality time learning about each other's lives.

Though my history with Celeste was not full of stories of our lives, we filled them with spending time and picking up on each other's personalities, quirks, and pet peeves. Our friendship was in real-time with real-life idiosyncrasies. You cannot pick up some of these things with virtual friends. Spending face-to-face time with a friend over coffee, lunch, or dinner is precious. A virtual meet-up could not give the same flavor or experience.

Because we see real friends face-to-face, we tend to consider their feelings. We see their natural facial expressions and body language. They all combine to affect how we interact with them. Though it may make us more mindful, it could also make us less authentic. For instance, we may not want to hurt the other person's feelings, so we don't say what we want. Many things could be left unsaid, and more misunderstandings could occur.

There are many things I have not expressed to Celeste for fear of hurting her feelings. There are other things I have not shared with her for fear of being judged by her. Celeste is very opinionated and will be forthcoming with her views. And sometimes, they sting! Despite all that, Celeste is a dear friend I treasure.

I treasure my virtual friend, Kimmy too. While some things are more easily attained from real friends, others are more easily obtained from virtual friends.

With Kimmy, there are no interruptions or distractions for the most part. Our connection is through conversation only. We spend no time doing things together other than talking. Because all we do is talk, we learn about each other's lives much faster. We ask more questions to keep the communication moving. Since we don't know each other in person, we seem less vested in the friendship. Because the interaction is not face-to-face in real-life and there is a screen or phone between us, it is as if we are divided by an invisible wall. With this wall of protection, we freely express and share things we may not do with a real friend.

Kimmy and I have probably shared hundreds of stories about our lives. We probably shared more because we were not worried about being judged. We are not too concerned about what the other person thinks of us. It is like telling a stranger everything in your heart, assuming you will never see that person again. I believe we are more authentic with our virtual friends because we feel more comfortable expressing ourselves. On the other hand, you could say that you could say anything, and the other person wouldn't know if you were talking truthfully or not.

With the invisible barrier, we may feel more secure. We don't worry too much about the other person's feelings. We are more likely to accept the differences if we have different opinions. We have no desire to persuade others to agree with our views. With that comes comfort and freedom to say whatever is on our minds. It's almost like having an objective friend, whereas things are more subjective with a real friend.

If there is any concern about how the other person may react, we are protected by the screen or phone, which gives us an extra layer of protection to soften the blow. We don't even have to see or look at the person on the other end. We can focus on hearing and listening to the other person. Without the visual of looking at each other, there is less pressure in the interaction. And with less anxiety, there is again more comfort and freedom for authentic self-expression.

I have found many deep and authentic conversations with virtual friends. That is not to say I cannot get it with real friends because I have that with real friends too. However, those kinds of conversations could be obtained more quickly with virtual friends.

Another great thing about virtual friends is that you can connect and respond whenever you please. There is much freedom and relief in that! With real friends, you are more likely to feel a need to answer at a moment's notice. 

Most enjoyable is when conversing with a virtual friend, the attention on each other is usually focused. We are both concentrating on the conversation. I feel heard; I feel valued. 

When I converse with Kimmy, I know she is listening and not doing something else. I don't worry about getting interrupted or cut off, for the most part, when we talk. With such relief, our conversations lend themselves to more meaningful talks.

No doubt, virtual and real friends both have their advantages and disadvantages. One is not necessarily better than the other. By having both, we reap the most significant rewards by having benefits from each. The greatest advantage of a virtual connection is focused conversation, and the best thing about a real-life connection is seeing and enjoying the company of another person.

Key Takeaways: Though some old memories may give us pain, they can give lessons and help us make positive new memories.

Though billions of people are on our planet, we only meet a limited number. Whether you have virtual or real friends, having both is good because you can reap the benefits from each one.

Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called Erase the Memories, Please and Where I Came From, Part I. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, subscribe, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!


Old Memories Make New Memories
Virtual vs. Real Friends
Key Takeaways