06/29/2010 04:56 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Distant Neighborhood

A recent week long stay in the hospital got me thinking about connections, our five best friends, and how vast our local neighborhoods are. When I busted my knee up, and couldn't drive, or get dinner by myself, I turned to my friends for help.

I am not the most social of bees but do have a nice collection of close friend. Thanks to email, Facebook, cell phones, Twitter and Texting, my core group of friends are all very close to me, and I probably communicate with them much more often than my father would have with his five best friends at our same respective ages. But of my five best friends, people I could call and say come pick me up at the hospital, only one of these friends actually lives in Boston. The other four are on Long Island, in North Carolina, in Los Angeles and in Scotland.

Before we go on, take a moment and envision where your five closest friends are. Probably at least two or three, or more, are far away from you physically. Instead of staying close by having lunch or dinner, we stay in more frequent contact electronically, building and nurturing friendships at a distance. We can also often find the means to fly to see those friends at much less expense than in days past.

You can also look at your Facebook friends and see friends from literally all over the world, from distant high schools or colleges. But again, many you actually may not in stay in touch with, you share photos and videos with, celebrate birthdays with, hang out with virtually. Just as some have asked "will Facebook kill the high school reunion?" it's fair to ask what other impacts the concept of a distant neighborhood might have.

It occurs to me it does indeed make the world smaller. I think I have friends from about 20 countries on Facebook and this brings their worlds, their lives, the issues where they live into my lives in a more pronounced manner.

It also means that brands are more instantly portable because if you work at Boloco in Boston, and you are looking to open a Boloco in a whole new market, friends of your existing fans may well, in fact, almost definitely will, live in that new market. Essentially you can get "word of mouth" advertising the day you open a store in a market you've never been.

It also makes somethings harder. Let's say you're raising money to build a new Little League field where you live. Well, you don't have the automatic group of people to tap into because your best friend in Los Angeles probably doesn't car quite as much. You can gather people globally as easily as our parents gathered people on the proverbial south side of town.

It also, trust me, makes getting home from the hospital a touch more challenging.