You can follow someone on Twitter and friend them on Facebook, but real friends are people you break bread with.
David Carr, in a piece for the New York Times, related eating bread baked by Clay Shirky, a web hero of considerable renown. It came as a surprise to Mr Carr (as it did to me) that Clay Shirky is a baker. His bread “was warm on the inside, crusty on the outside, little French loaves of goodness,” which also seemed a surprise and noteworthy to Mr Carr (although not to me; you serve your own bread at a meal because you know it is good).
Mr Carr used the occasion to ruminate on the nature of friendships and social ties, the differences between cyberfriends and “real” friends, and the ways in which one can become the other, changing the nature of the relationship profoundly. (As an aside, the news that Shirky is a baker seems to have outed other bakers, and made them known to one another, which is nice.) What pleased me most about the encounter is not that David Carr discovered the difference between real people and cyber people, but that he discovered the difference between real bread and rubbish, to the extent that he pestered Mr Shirky (online) for the recipe and shared (photos of) the results with his new friends (also online).
I don’t really care whether he keeps baking or not. I’m glad Carr made those “lumpy but fundamentally sound” loaves at least once. Making bread and sharing it with friends and loved ones is one of the most rewarding things a person can do.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a 40% light rye sourdough to remove from the oven.