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    RAYLINSTEPHENS   190,326
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What is a SparkFriend? How does it differ from SparkBuddy?


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What is a SparkFriend? How does it differ from SparkBuddy?

Not too long ago I read a post where the person complained that her sparkfriends were not motivating her. They were not supporting her.

I have a lot of people that have made me a sparkfriend and I am honored by each and every one of them. When I joined SP I remember reading that if you come across a page that motivates you, make them a sparkfriend so you can visit that page whenever you need motivation. This is passive and the motivating is coming from the person initiating the "friendship" and there is no special requirement for the new friend to be actively supporting & motivating.

I am just wondering what y'all think about "what is a SparkFriend" - do you think that this person you are naming as a sparkfriend owes you something? (I do reciprocate and make the person asking my sparkfriend too.)

On the flipside, I do believe that if you agree to be someone's SparkBuddy - this means you are going to be there as backup should the need arise.

Since I did a thorough search and could find no answers, I thought to ask you guys - my SparkFriends!

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I really love all the answers! I believe in "friending" everyone that makes me a friend. It just feels like the right thing to do.

I also will reply to anyone asking a question on my page or in a sparkmail.

But time gets limited and I do what I can day to day. I think I am on the same track as most of you who have left comments.

We do what we can, but we cannot fully motivate someone who is not interested in being their own best friend. This journey must start at home, with step one.
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SOPHIADARE 1/10/2011 10:31AM

    I have avoided "looking" for a buddy because I'm just not able to be at even the computer on a reliable basis.

We are all worthy of support and entitled to receive support from anyone who is willing to give it to us, but an entitlement to receive is different from a right to demand from a specific person. An entitlement to receive is a recognition of worthiness. An enforceable right to demand is an entirely different matter, and even when a promise has been made to allow such a demand, ability to give must properly be adjudicated by an impartial third party. If someone becomes a buddy, then I figure the buddies work out what their contract is.

Being friends, on the other hand, is to join the community of those who promise to act in accord with the community's rules, and to think that another member of the community is a compatible acquaintance.

I try to keep up with and be supportive of many spark friends, and while i'm glad when they have time to be supportive of me, I don't feel that agreeing to be friends means any more than thinking that we might have enough in common that occasionally we might have useful ideas and support for each other and a willingness to avoid being negative.

It is possible to have a reason to drop someone from a friend list, but that would be unusual. It could come from three things. First, someone who was negative, even if they only seemed negative to you, would be someone to say goodbye to. Second, it is possible to admire someone, even very much, but for their positive journey to be taking place in a way that the friend feed accidentally sends as negative to you. In that case, you might find a need to say a temporary goodbye to someone you like and admire. Third, I spent a long time as an executive, so I can imagine welcoming enough new members and making them friends so that I could find a need to "weed out my address book" especially if I had a need to reduce my membership roles. Yes, this would take the form of deleting screen names with whose owners I hadn't interacted in a certain time, but it wouldn't be from any junior high school feeling that they "hadn't supported me" because that's not the way things work.

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DINGALLSTOO 1/7/2011 8:14PM

    For me Spark Friends are people who motivate me...so I can find my way back to them. Buddies are mostly in my city and we do things together.

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XKANDI2005X 1/7/2011 5:38PM

    I am fairly new to the Spark People community, but absolutely love the idea of having spark friends. To me, a spark friend is someone who stops by your page every so often to post words of encouragement, notice that progress has been made, or just simply motivate me to continue working towards my goal. It's easy to put a smile on my face, and just a simple "hey there, you're doing great!" is all I'd need. And, of course, I would do the same for them. It's not one of those things I expect to see each and every day, but it's nice to receive a compliment or two occasionally.

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STIPER23 1/7/2011 2:04PM

    I don't expect anything from my Spark Friends. I don't have a specific Spark Buddy, but I do have a few Spark Friends that I correspond with more often than others and those are usually the ones that always comment on my blogs.



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VICD25 1/7/2011 1:51PM

    To have a friend, be a friend. When I am active supporting my friends, they are active supporting me. When I'm quiet, they are quiet. It's like giving a smile. You can't help but give it back!

It's a community. It's built around many, not one. I would ask the person complaining whether he/she is supporting his/her friends or whether he/she's just sitting back waiting for others to do the work.

as for Spark buddy. . . I'm so full with friends, and so blessed that they are so faithful and supportive, I don't really need a 1:1 buddy. I emoticon all my spark friends.

I think it's a great question you raise. I think LOPEY (who's a dear friend to me) makes a great point, friending someone with something in common makes it journey easier.

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LOPEYP 1/7/2011 12:44PM

    The whole sparkfriend thing is interesting. If I find someone who motivates me, I friend them. This is usually after I have "corresponded" with them - either on their page or blog.
I believe that this is what most people do although I have received requests from people whom I have no idea who they are or what I did that made them want to friend me.
Anyway, I enjoy keeping up with my friends and learning things from them and then encouraging and supporting them when I can. I cannot motivate them - I only motivate myself and hope that they catch the bug.
I don't know what a sparkbuddy is. Is that different from a sparkfriend?

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LIBBYFITZ 1/6/2011 6:50PM

    I don't expect my Spark friends to directly motivate me, I appreciate the support and friendship. I respond to as many blogs as I can and give support and encouragement, if that motivates somebody that is for them to decide. emoticon

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DAWNWATERWOMAN 1/6/2011 6:11PM

    As of this minute, I have 794 "spark friends". Once a month I visit each and every page with a comment or goody. I wish I could give everyone a goody but I ALWAYS run out of them before I run out of "friends". I try to post motivating status comments & blogs when I can to help "motivate" my fellow Spark members. I go to as many blogs as I can and always leave comments. Hopefully they help to motivate & cheer my spark friends. If someone "friends" me, I always reciprocate & send them a comment. However, if after 160 days of me sending them messages, they have not changed their status or been active on spark people I drop them as friends. It does NOT mean that I won't comment to them if they do again post... but it literally takes me about 6 hours to go through and visit each and every spark page like I do. I huddle daily on each of my spark teams. If I see someone with a message "I need support" I go to their page & visit. If I see messages in their status or on threads that give me opportunities to cheer & celebrate or even pray with my spark friends (and team family members) I do so. However... we can't be everything for everyone and we MUST reach out for motivation and support when we need it. People would be surprised to realize that I suffer from pretty heavy depression a lot of the time. We have to reach out of our shells and help ourselves. I find that by helping others I help myself most of the time! Love ya, Dawn emoticon emoticon

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SANANTONIOMOM 1/6/2011 1:16PM

    I am new to the Spark Family. I would want friends who inspire me and who I can inspire also. It is a two way street. It certainly can not be a one person effort. emoticon

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SLENDERELLA61 1/5/2011 11:11PM

    Linda, I think one of the great, great things about SparkPeople is that it is a tremendously supportive environment WITHOUT requiring ANYTHING of the participants. It is perfectly okay that when a Sparker has time, she/he Sparks. When she doesn't, they turn off the computer and don't feel guilty. I have SparkFriends that I want to read every blog and follow their activities. But I don't feel obligated to do so. For one thing, I know in this wonderful community that someone else will step up to support my SparkFriend when I don't have time. I try to let SparkFriends that I hear from regularly know when I'm out of town or preoccupied, but no one has ever chastised me. I hope that my SparkFriends put their own lives and their own program first, but I'm delighted by all the comments and support and SparkGoodies that they generously give to me!!

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CCHELLEZ 1/5/2011 9:58PM

  I don't expect anything from SparkFriends.
I hope that their posts inspire me which would lead to motivation.
But my motivations are my doing.



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AMBUDMAN 1/5/2011 8:25PM

    I have met and corresponded with so many great people here on Spark People and I have even met some of them in person. My true Spark Buddy is my best friend and neighbor and we support and encourage each other all the time.

I'm with TEENY_BIKINI on this one also! WATERMELLEN is one of my Spark Friends and I really enjoy hearing from her.

Great Blog!!

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FORMYDARLINGS 1/5/2011 8:16PM

    You know Linda, I will have to really think on this one. I know I have Sparkfriends who are more back and forth with me than others, but I appreciate that not everyone thinks the same as me, so there you go. I have honestly not found a true Sparkbuddy. I would love to have someone to tal;k to every day and share everything, but I guess I think I would take to much and not give enough.

Gini emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 1/5/2011 7:54PM

    Really interesting blog, as always -- and I'm with TEENY_BIKINI on this one!

This is an amazing community where much is given generously and unstintingly-- but still, probably cannot be demanded.

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TEENY_BIKINI 1/5/2011 7:37PM

    I am very lucky to have my spark friends. They have taught me to love myself back to health, figure out my own answers, learn how to motivate myself and stand on my own feet proudly.

They have taught me that I am the only who can give me the love I needed. They have taught me to look within for the answers - because that is where they are. It is not their job to give me something that I am not or will not give myself.

I cannot expect something I am not willing to give. I certainly cannot expect someone to motivate me - that puts the onus of responsibility one everyone else but me. And my lack of responsibility for my health and happiness was the problem in the first place...

That said - I have met the most supportive and gracious and loving people I have ever met here. I certainly don't take my friendships for granted. I do my best to support my friends. I have only agreed to be a buddy to 1 person when I first started - but now I cannot do that. I do believe that is a commitment.

And so gorgeous - I love this blog. Because it really makes me think and it is thoughtful and kind - just like you.

I shall be voting :)

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SABERTOOTHS62 1/5/2011 3:50PM

  One of my deariest friends is from Spark!!

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CIVIAV 1/5/2011 2:21PM

    What a great topic for discussion. Spark Friends can be almost anyone who Sparks and there are stronger relationships among them and yet there are certainly those special connections that warrant a closer tie. Calling them Spark Buddies is certainly one way to go. I'm not so attached to the names but I do know that there are Sparkers I look for on a regular basis because it matters to me how they are doing and I know that there is some special connection between us. That connection isn't always a totally close friendship but might be because we share similar circumstances or life situations.

Regardless, Spark Friends or Spark Buddies are precious and it makes Sparking a place that seems like home. I wonder though how to keep up with everyone and fear I don't support my Spark Friends the way I would like. Just learning to do my best is really quite enough for most. They say so and I think that it's true since what we are learning here is to do what works for us and may work for others as well.



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MEADSBAY 1/5/2011 2:16PM

    I think of Sparkfriends as like people at a party- some you have time to chat with and get to really know and some are just at the same party.

SparkBuddies- seems like that is more a one on one more personal relationship- which should include supporting and encouraging each other.

But, ultimately, as in life, we are all responsible for ourselves and our own journeys.

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MARTY19 1/5/2011 2:09PM

    I also have many spark friends. I treausre them. I have some very special buddies. These are the people who pick me up when I am down, carry me when it becomes to much, kcik my behind when it needs it and are so special and unique that I cannot imagine my life without them.

Love you buddy
Marty

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KATIECALLOS 1/5/2011 1:56PM

    I think Karen hit it right on the head. I look at the pages of my sparks friends to give myself motivation. Don't get me wrong, I love it when I get a comment on my page or blog. BUT I don't blog to get comments, I do it to get my feelings out!

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KAREN42BOYS 1/5/2011 1:21PM

    (anyone else keeping on hitting F5 to track the conversation? this is such a great topic/discussion!)

i guess i think of "motivate" as different from "inspire". i choose spark friends who inspire me. people a little older who just seem like wise women. people who have accomplished things I want to accomplish. people at a similar place of life and making the changes i want to make.

Comment edited on: 1/5/2011 1:57:12 PM

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WOLFKITTY 1/5/2011 1:04PM

    I have to agree with KAREN42BOYS.

I have a big friend's list. I have an even bigger friends list where it says "People Who Have Added YOU that You HAVEN'T Added". (I've always felt uneasy about not adding people, but since I get a lot of new sparker adds, I also see a HIGH rate of attrition. Sometimes they come back, but even with my modest 400 friends, many of them are no longer here.) I've been on SparkPeople for 3 years, a "Positive Attitude" Motivator for almost that long, and I've interacted with a lot of people because with the exception of 6 months in there, I greeted every single one of the nearly 14,000 members of the Done Girl team, plus sent greetings to new Sparkers in the Community Message Board.

There was a year where I wasn't getting ANY SparkMail, but in the other two I received 2,500 notifications of friend adds. I'm not boasting, in any way, but, I'm using it to illustrate a point. I attempt to contact every person that friends me, but I don't add people unless there's a connection on my end, or I recognize them because they've interacted with me on my page.

I get friend requests from people who never say one word to me. That's fine. I get messages from people saying, "You don't know me, but I've been watching you for a long time."

In my opinion, the more you give, the more interaction you get. You can't simply join SP then sit back at your computer and wait for people to know you're there and magically encourage you. We all need to find support systems, teams or challenges that involve others, and get into it, if we want that kind of encouragement. Or, as you mentioned, sign up with a SparkBuddy, and make a commitment to each other!

At a low point in 2010 I was just signing on to send an email and spin the wheel. I read any messages that came to my page. Even with an estimated 3,000+ friends, there were very, very few sent my way. It's not up to anyone but me to feel motivated. ;D



Jocelyn

Comment edited on: 1/5/2011 1:10:46 PM

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HEARTANDMUSIC 1/5/2011 12:40PM

    I also agree. The only person who is responsible for you is you!

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GLEN4536 1/5/2011 12:27PM

  Hi Karen I couldn't agree more, you can give all the encouragement in the world,
bottom line is we are all responsible for our own success or failure, You can
choose to get moving, or you could sit and do nothing

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RUNWITHMICHELE 1/5/2011 12:23PM

    I have mixed feelings about this because SP focuses on weight loss and building a better life for oneself. Because of that, I think that we are all in some way or another in the same boat, the "kid being picked last" or we've felt alienated.

Everyone on SP has had some battle that they are trying to overcome. By signing up- we should befriend and a be a friend to as many people that we can. I think that it is important to form these relationships because it helps keep people on track and it also helps remind us that near or far some one is there and is going through similar stuff.

On the other hand, this is life and we can't force friendship upon anyone. It's tough but I think as part of the SP community that we should try our best to be a friend in the way that we know how to whoever wants or needs it.

Sorry for the rant- does this make sense?

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LIZZYP609 1/5/2011 12:22PM

    I have spent long hours looking for someone one to help keep me accountable and to encourage me. what I have found is that No one is going to be there the way you want for everything you want. That has to come within yourself.
With that said, my answer to your question is that I agree. SparkFriends are people you may friend and feel encouraged by but a SparkBuddy is someone that is more one on one that you become very close to. Someone that you turn to the most.
I have a few SparkBuddies and our relationship has changed based on what we are going through. I totally agree with Karen. At the same time I will be friends with my SparkBuddies not because of SP but because I have gotten to know them as people and consider them my friend.

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JHADZHIA 1/5/2011 12:08PM

    I feel when someone makes me a Spark friend I am honored and flattered, but run into the trouble its too much and I can't keep up with all the activities of my various friends. I sort of feel obligated to motivate and support them since they actually picked me to be their friend. Its a dilemma as its causing me to spend hours I don't really want to on here, because A, I have a slow connection and B I only type (poorly) with two fingers and it takes me a while to comment on people's blogs and pages, and I also put a lot of thought into my comments to people. Every time I welcomed people on the site they ended up making me a friend so I left the community team because I couldn't handle this anymore. I have no idea how Yoovie and Teeny Bikini keep up with their massive friends list. Teeny is always faithfully commenting on my activities but yoovie doesn't at all. Someone did say they wanted an active go getter to motivate them and that is why they chose me to be their friend.
I agree that a buddy should be a more serious commitment.
In the mean time what do I do with this big friend's list?? For me, its way too much..

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RAYLINSTEPHENS 1/5/2011 11:54AM

    I agree Karen, thanks for your comment!

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KAREN42BOYS 1/5/2011 11:37AM

    linda,
if we're looking for others to motivate us, then we're not really working our own journey to weight loss and recovery. sure, it's great getting the encouragement, but that's not the job of spark friends. i think we need to each be drawing our own encouragement from each other. like when you posted you'd reached your crazy 100,000 fitness minutes. that is encouraging and dazzling to me. but i don't expect you to be saying "hey, karen, you gotta do this, too." if you say "hey, karen, great job of getting a swim in on a cold day" i'd appreciate it, but really it's up to me to do my part.

i think sometimes when we complain about stuff, we're identifying our own emotional homework. that taking responsibility for our own bodies and not blaming our success or lack of success on other people.

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