Girlfriends… In Real Life


It’s a safe bet there aren’t any Amish women on Facebook. Besides that whole electricity thing, how would they have time for it?

O, Facebook—how did I ever live without you? I discovered it’s beautiful blue logo during a season when I was working from home. I was lonely and bored and I craved being with people. Facebook became my virtual break room, a place to have a conversation and catch up with my friends.

It’s also a safe bet that I wasn’t the only lonely woman in my neighborhood. In the 1950’s, when many of the homes in my neighborhood were built, less than 10% of them contained only one person. By 2010, this number has increased 250% so that today one in four of the homes on our street is occupied by one person living alone. An AARP study found that 35% of all adults over 45 are chronically lonely—a 225% increase in ten years.

Loneliness is an epidemic in our neighborhoods, and its effects are real and painful. People who are lonely are 19% more likely to die early; in fact, loneliness impacts early death more than poverty or obesity. Research shows that being lonely and feeling isolated can lead to an increase in blood pressure, cause a less restorative and restful sleep, hike up the feeling of depression, cause an increase of stress hormone cortisol in the mornings and decrease the overall sense of living a life of meaning. Lonely people are also more likely to be obese and experience memory loss, dementia, inflammation and heart conditions.

I was lonely, and my Facebook fanaticism was a symptom of my need for relationships. But it was not the solution.

The average online American spends 2 hours a day social networking from a computer, tablet and/or mobile phone. Seriously? Do the math: 2 hours a day x 365 days a year = 30 days a year with our faces buried in a screen. What wouldn’t you give to have a month with your girlfriends—at the beach, in a coffee shop, on your sofa? How would your family be different if you looked into each other’s eyes for 730 hours a year?


Facebook was virtually boring me to death, until I began using it to literally connect with my friends. My real friends—the ones who don’t need a status update to know what’s up. I created a group for my neighborhood where we planned a block party and a community yard sale. When I see someone struggling, I call them for a real chat. I invite girlfriends to meet up for coffee (and I don’t tag pictures of us while we’re out!).

Social media can be a useless distraction that drives a wedge between us and the real, live people sitting right in front of us. Or, it can also be a useful tool used to arrange real life encounters with the people we love.

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Amy Lively (23 Posts)

Amy Lively is a speaker and the author of "How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird" (May, Bethany House). She provides tips and tools for Christ’s #2 command drawing from her own experience knocking on her neighbors’ doors and leading a women’s neighborhood Bible study called The Neighborhood Cafe. She is passionate about helping people identify their unique ministry gifts and use them in their community. Amy lives in Lancaster, Ohio with her husband, their daughter, a holy dog and an unsaintly cat. Learn more at


  1. Oh, you never know! I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some Amish girls on FB!

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