When Facebook Friends Are Real

I love social media.

It brings the world to our doorstep—and delivers us out to a bigger universe. I meet people I might never otherwise and my work and my life are the richer for it.

You can go wide or deep. You can make followers, connections and “friends”. You can be strictly business or blend your work and social lives.

I tend to blur the lines a bit. Which is how I became friends with Gloria Ruhrmund. We connected through one of my LinkedIn groups when she started her own firm in South Africa. We shared a few ideas and she invited me to become Facebook friends.

We never met. We never spoke. Over time—about three years—we become personal fans of each other through Facebook. We bonded over tales and pictures of Africa, love, heartbreak, ballet, fashion, books and her beloved son Kels. In ways that my favorite women do, we cheered each other on and gave words of comfort during tragedy.

We were friends.

When she was diagnosed with cancer, we buzzed about alternative treatment options. We emailed about cancer fundraising. I sent her a few inspirational tidbits. She handled all of her trials with grace and dignity, right down to saying goodbye once she knew she wouldn’t win this battle.

When Gloria passed away last week, I didn’t grieve for a “Facebook friend”, but a real, gutsy, spirited woman who I am proud to call friend. Someone who left an indelible impression for which I am profoundly grateful.

I want you to have a Gloria too.

Start today—take a deeper social media dive with a few good souls who intrigue you.

I promise it won’t be smoke and mirrors.



  • My condolences. Where would someone who is not professionally involved with social media, like me, find the time? That is a real question.

    My life is filled with my business, family, political work, charitable work, reading, friends and several more things. I am not being cynical, but do you think someone like me who is not involved with social media – other than LinkedIn which I use extensively – would have time to make such friends?

    So far I do not LinkIn with people with whom I have not at least spent significant phone time, and have not joined Facebook. I am a bit older, late fifties, and still like to cuddle with paper books, but do not think that matters.

  • Rochelle,
    Once again you show you are what a friend needs. I feel I am that to my friends. I believe in paying it forward even when there is nothing requiring it.


  • K.C.
    I’m not sure it’s much of a stretch from what you already do, since you are very generous with your help to those who you know. And, I did meet Gloria in LinkedIn which is where a lot of us develop and maintain business digital relationships.

    In this particular case, Facebook deepened the friendship in a way that LinkedIn could not. And yes, it does take some time, but not very much. I’m already there to keep track of my far-flung family and friends, although I don’t post with great regularity, other than my blog. I “listen” way more than I speak on FB and I choose my friends carefully, so it’s not a very big group. The real credit here goes to Gloria, who made the initial request and let me into her world. She came from a music background and had such a delightful spirit that friendship was perhaps inevitable…

    Maybe FB is not for you–it certainly isn’t for everyone. But Gloria taught me a lesson about it that I just felt compelled to take note of and share…

  • Thanks Ed–I believe you are EXACTLY that for your friends. And I’ve been a beneficiary on more than 1 occasion 🙂

  • My condolences on the loss of a friend.
    I use email more than social media to stay in touch and often switch to that mode rather the continue a conversation in LinkedIn or on Facebook when I have than info. It remains a preference. You point out not just the advantage of social media per se but of a wider ability to connect the Internet empowers in each of us. Social media remains but a tool to manage (I hate to use that word here) those relationships. It enables virtual networking and I know I find benefits in that.

  • Thank you Corey. I think we all search for a balance of how to maintain live and virtual friendships. Social media is truly a tool…

  • John

    Rochelle, Thanks for clarifying the difference between virtual & live relationships. The best relationships are indifferent as I’ve found along the way. And for certain my condolences to you for your loss. I’ll actually admit to the odd sniffle over such things 🙂

    Also, in my past sales experience, I learned that listening sells MUCH more. And now in social media … same all over. Take care. John

  • I’m so sorry to hear that. I didn’t expect the story to go that way! Thanks so much for sharing. It’s really touching and amazing how the internet is bringing people together from around the world. Introducing us to our extended families.

    And PS: thanks for the twitter follow! I’m really enjoying your blog

  • Rochelle

    Thank you John and Authentista–I appreciate both your thoughtful additions AND your condolences. Gloria had a beautiful spirit and I just had to share the story…

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