Friends come and go, depending on the things they share in common through the years. Perhaps the way that folks meet can also have some impact on the longevity of their friendships. By this I mean that I can detect a difference in the nature of friendships that I have developed through social media, compared to those that I made through meeting people face to face.

Social media has been of great value to me in sustaining connections. Those born after a certain point in time probably have no idea what it was like to only be able to communicate with friends, acquaintances and associates abroad through air letter forms, telegrams and international phone conversations.

There is a difference however, when the initial contact between two people is made from face to face communication compared to the dynamic that emerges from chatting online. I have friends who refuse to engage with computers of any sort, probably because they are fearful of making the effort to get to grips with the technicalities of engaging with social media.

Instant messaging was a miraculous invention when it came along, however. I was able to coach a group of artistes to learn and rehearse a music theatre piece, thousands of miles away. I just recorded the music and instructions on Whatsapp and the performers could get on with the process, almost two weeks before I could see them in person.

On the other hand, I had regular contact with an acquaintance on Skype at one point. Even after being in touch every day, I cannot say I was prepared for what it felt like when we met in the same space. Is it any wonder that the world doesn’t feel much safer for many folks nowadays?