The internet allows us to reach people in places that we have never visited. We dream of visiting these places but some dreams will remains just that. Through the web, we can experience parts of them and their people. That is the beauty of being online.
Think about it: we all respond, comment, or chat with people we never met in life. We connect on LinkedIn, or Twitter, or through our blogs. We never met yet we look each other up, check the WordPress Reader to see who blogged today, and we comment. We found out that we liked each others tweets, comments, the content we blog about, or we just connected over simple facts such as being parents.
We support those who write about grief and pain and cheer them up as we would a friend sitting across from us in a coffee shop. We celebrate newborns, mourn when pets pass away, and post “thumbs up” when we like what we read.
Virtual friendships sometimes lead to meetings that confirm the friendship is genuine, it is real. I am lucky to have met some of the people I often see online. It could have been a real disappointment as everyone can be anyone online, right?
Using the keyboard we can think about our choice of words, delete and start over, or even claim a typo when we realize something was worded too harshly.
Some friendships are easier online than they are in life. If you meet a friend for lunch there is no escaping each other. So if your friend bursts into the restaurant crying, plops down on their chair, and starts to pour their heart and soul out all over the menu… you cannot really get away to take a deep breath and prepare yourself. It is an instant confrontation.
Online you can take a moment. If you see that someone is blogging about problems you can take the time to read it twice, digest what the issue is, form your thoughts about the issue, draft an answer, correct or edit that response, and think again before you hit “send.”
On the other hand, your soul-pouring friend in the restaurant just might needed that one moment of venting after which they take a deep breath, and tell you “I’m good now. What shall we order?”
Every friendship comes with its own perks so here are my questions for you:
- do you have virtual connections with people you consider to be friends?
- have you ever met your virtual friends?
- do you communicate with your virtual friends only though social media or has it progressed to email and maybe even calling?
- and of course, were they exactly like you imagined them to be?
I wonder whether you also noted differences in friendships online and friendships in life. How easy (or not) is it to deal with private issues from online friends? Can you still relate to an online friend after you see who else they chat with or the topic they discuss? Is it easier to be accepting of a friend’s bad moments in life than online?