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Social Media Gives Military Families a Platform to Maintain Old Friendships and Begin New Ones

Woman types on a laptop
Ed Gregory
Woman types on a laptop

Life in a military family is full of intersections. The spouses of service men and women sometimes connect with each other for just a short time before they must move to a new base or even a new country. Social media is a vital resource for these people to create relationships and maintain them over long distances.

Abby Morris and Amber Bauer’s husbands are both active duty airmen at Tinker Air Force Base. The two women met on a Facebook page created for military spouses to connect, vent about life, and share knowledge.

“My husband, well fiancé at the time, was deploying to [the United Arab Emirates] and I had posted in one of the spouses groups just looking for people who have been through or are going through the same thing,” Morris said. “She was one of the first people that messaged me.”

Bauer reached out to Morris because she had been in a similar situation in the early days of her relationship with her husband.

“She wasn't married yet, so there's not a lot of support for girlfriends or fiancé’s,” Bauer said. “When me and my husband first got together he deployed three months later and I had no help through it because I wasn't a wife. So I had a soft spot in my heart for her.”

They quickly became close friends, meeting and chatting over sushi every w -eek, and realized that they had even more in common than they had realized.

“Our husbands are the same rank, they work in the same shop, they've been at Tinker the same amount of time,” Morris says. “When stuff happens in the shop we can talk to each other about it - when stuff gets frustrating that people normally don't understand.”

Bauer interacts with many of her “military wife” friends solely online but sometimes those friendships cross into the physical world.

“Yesterday I went to a ‘ladies’ night in’ and I was friends with probably five of the people that were there on Facebook and that was my first time meeting them and I've been friends with them for probably a year or so online,” Bauer says. “I talk to them everyday online and it was nice to finally put a name to a face and an actual person.”

Friendships between military families can be bittersweet because they often know from the beginning that they won’t always live near one another. For example, Bauer says her family will probably stay at Tinker for a long time, whereas Morris and her husband are moving soon.

“We just got orders to Wichita Falls,” Morris says. “We leave next May.”

Bauer finds that even with Facebook and other online resources, trying to keep up with friends who have moved away can feel one-sided, but can also be worth it.

“I'll be the one that makes all the effort, mostly online,” Bauer says. “I do have one friend, she kind of took me in like I took her in whenever I was just dating my husband and they've moved to Texas and I'm actually going to go down there this summer to go visit them because they're renewing their vows.

Bauer and Morris are determined to keep their friendship strong. Morris says they plan on making lots of trips to see each other once she and her family move to Wichita Falls.

“Especially since she's only going to be three or 4 hours away,” Morris says. “It'll make it a lot easier than if we were in a whole ‘nother country or something.”

And between visits, the two friends know they can find each other, and a whole community of support, on Facebook.

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