1. Sandy, you must have ESP… once again you've blogged about something that is on my mind!

    IMHO, on-line interactions can kindle friendships – like ours. But friendship must be fostered beyond the occasional remark or quip.

    I have a network of friends that I used to meet & talk on the phone with. Now all the interaction is via FB. Since I've left FB I'm out of the loop. I have to be the one to initiate contact. I'm very, very frustrated right now. May is the month of recotals, proms sports teams & graduations and I don't have visibility since I refuse to play the FB game.

    What's more is I read 2 private blog diaries of friends really struggling with stuff (college & major weight loss). These 2 people can blog about their struggles, but when I contact them directly when I'm concerned they can't talk about it.

    On-line friendships can have some level of friendship. But the actual interactions give people a false sense of friendship & intimacy. What's worse is that the time devoted to these interactions impedes true relationship building. I'm so sad and frustrated right now.

  2. This is a really good question.

    I suppose it's how you define "friend". I've had many friends — real life — who because of busy schedules and demanding lives our friendships have been maintained via technology — email, text messages and the telephone. Does that make them less friend than those that I have lunch with or might go shopping with?

    Sometimes the ones I share with via technology know me better — I share a little more because there are not the confines of having to get together face to face; and sometimes, I can just "vent" and the person on the otherside and come back little by little if it's too much to deal with rather than having to take it all in.

    I have Facebook friends who I don't know. They wished me a happy birthday last week and i was wondering who on earth were they and why on earth would they send me birthday wishes. Only some of my facebook friends are "really" friends — either virtual or in real life. But a bunch are just linked because of a common interest — Guatemalan adoptions.

    I have virtual friends…people that I might have met on a forum where the friendship went off the forum and into email and some phone calls and even some face to face times. I suppose it's like internet dating but with friendships.

    I would honestly tell you that I have appreciated my online friends tremendously. I believe that there is a season for everything. I believe that God brings people into your lives in different ways to minister to you and through you. Sometimes, our friends are brought to us via the conventional way and other times God uses not so conventional methods.

    The downside to online friends is that when you need a shoulder to cry on….it's hard to hug a keyboard and get the same comfort in return. The downside to online friends is that when you are feeling really cruddy and need someone to "read between the lines" if you are a good writer you can cover up how you are really feeling. The downside is that you can hide behind a fasade. But I guess if you are really good at stuffing your feelings and putting on that happy face…you can con your real life friends as well. After all, we only let people see what we want them to see.

    I enjoy meeting my online friends. I have met in real life a handful. Of those that I have met, we have hit it off — at least I think.

    When I met you — as you know I was worried that you might be a predator from Dateline. But really enjoyed hanging out with you and there was a part of my soul that longed for more of that. And also learned you were not a predator.

    I don't think that it's a competition between online versus real life friends. There are things I can do with my real life friends that I can't do with my online friends. While I would love to go to a park and walk with you at a fast clip and then hang out or help you fold laundry (LOL), that's not realistic. But it doesn't mean that I am less of a friend. Maybe, just a different kind of friend. One does not replace the other and one is not necessarily greater.

    I do have a friend that I met online and we have basically emailed every day for the past year and a half. I have shared with her my ups and downs, my fears and insecurities, and when she is going through a rough time with her daugther or has a health scare, my heart breaks for her. When she has her family in from out of town and the cameras should be rolling — I laugh. We encourage one another. We laugh. We cry. And i truly appreciate the friendship. And I have never sat down with her for a cup of coffee or tea becuase I don't drink coffee.

    Sometimes, in my observation and in my own experiences, friendships with women can be challenging — especially if we allow the relationship to become a bit co-dependent and if you have any other kind of friend it becomes a power struggle and jealousies and insecurities explode. But that would be a whole other topic.

  3. Oooh, I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this.

    I do think online friends can be real friends, but it probably takes more time and interaction that face-to-face friendships. That said, you kind of just know through reading someone's blog and interacting via email if you have a connection with them.

    My problem is not so much online friends, but my real friends. They don't understand the blog stuff–most don't even read my blog, which also hurts. A lot. The fact that my friends don't read my blog says to me that they don't care much about my life or my thoughts, which is kind of weird and I wonder if I should even call them friends.

    But, again, do I care if an online acquaintance doesn't read my blog? Sometimes. But not as much. Which might mean that I don't have as close a connection with an online friend as a real-life friend.

    Argh! Now I'm confused!

  4. I have only been blogging for a short time, but a friend has been blogging for years about infertility and recently, adoption. I think you'll appreciate her story about a friend she met while blogging. Here's a link to her post regarding this: http://glennamarshall.blogspot.com/2010/03/trip.html
    I think commonalities kindle friendships and it's up to us to fan the flames – whether it's someone we can sit and have coffee at the table with, or over our laptop:)

  5. I have one particular on-line friend that I think of when this subject comes up. I consider that person one of my friends. However, that friendship is different then those of someone you see in person.
    Why is this?

    I think it's because people communicate with more then words. When you are having a conversation with someone you are not only communicating with your voice but also with your posture, body language, and facial expressions. You can't see the people you communicate with online so we need to be more careful with what we 'say' (type)because the other person can't see us.
    So often people say sarcastic things and if you can see or hear the person you know that. However, just by typing that it is more difficult to pick up.

    I have virtually no hope in ever meeting this one friend of mine in person but I enjoy being able to communicate on-line. We never would have met had it not been for the internet. I say you can be true friends with someone online but you share a different type of connection with them.

  6. i think it's a matter of spending time getting to know someone…whether that's done face to face or not. i see "friends" in real life, but if i don't spend time with them, then the friendship is shallow. i can then turn around and spend time interacting with someone online and develop a true friendship.

    of course, all this assumes that there are commonalities, most importantly, my true friends are women who love the Lord. i can be friendly with non-believers and want to get to know them and interact with them for the sake of being salt & light, but only a sister in Christ is going to know my heart and hear my struggles and carry my burdens with me.

    a true friend is also going to speak truth into my life and sharpen me–and welcome me to do the same. all this takes time, time to build trust, to learn more about one another.

    in the past few years, i've had to stop chasing friends that weren't willing to invest what it takes to be real friends. it's work and it's commitment–so it makes sense that true friends are limited.

    as for facebook, i rarely request a friendship with someone i've never met in real life (there are exceptions!). i use fb to keep track of people, but i definitely agree it's conterfeit community. i'm careful not to fool myself into believing that getting comments on my status update is about really getting to know me. i've got mixed feelings.

    okay, i think that was all over the place….i need to get to bed, but i just had to comment on here. especially since you and i have had enough interaction to not be total strangers, yet i'm not sure i'd say we're friends yet. you know? 😉

  7. Yes, I definitely consider online friendships real…..especially after such a nice heartfelt comment left on my blog yesterday! You had no idea how much I needed that and it made my afternoon!

    I believe the biggest difference betweeen virtual and in person friendships are the obvious ones…..you can "type" for hours with an online blog friend, but can't get together for coffee, kids playdates, etc.

    I have lots of "real" friends that follow blogs, etc so I don't feel I have to sacrifice or explain either type of friendship.

    Sending you a "virtual" piece of Black magic cake with a big cup of coffee…..:)

  8. Hi Sandy, an interesting question…though relatively new to blogging, I have enjoyed the online friendships that have formed…I laugh as I say that, because I'm thinking most people who are going to read this question and respond enjoy online friendships and will probably say so! I'd like to hear from some folks on "the other side"! I do have friends who don't "get" blogging…they think it's strange and don't think you can form real connections that way…I say, don't judge until you try.

    I agree with Terri- blogging and facebook can kindle friendships…I think it's a very beginning foundation…for example, we don't know much about each other on a a real one on one level, but I know enough about you to do that if we were ever going to be in the same part of town it would be cool to grab a drink or something!

    I've also met people at conferences, etc., interacted briefly and then I feel like our "connection" (don't know if I'd go so far as to always call it a friendship) has grown through facebook and blogs…I learn more about them, they me…if we ever see each other again I think we'll be closer than if we hadn't had those online interactions…

    looking forward to hearing your thoughts…

    thanks for the note of encouragement about my pictures the other day! I am in the "long/hard' early years stage…and that is VERY much how it feels…

  9. Sandy, I limit my online relationships to FB and everyone I am "friends" with on FB is someone I know personally ( mostly HS or elementary school). Due to the different directions our lives have taken us, if not for FB I guarantee I would never have spoken to them again. I appreciate FB for the opportunity to reconnect with people. Admittedly, there are some "friends" with whom I would not likely be close with if we lived nearby. However, there are a great number of people (yourself included) with whom I would like to think I could have a "real life" friendship. In fact, it saddens me to know that I will likely never sit down for a cup of coffee with them. But, it does not make them any less a real friend.

    As in real life, on-line I have both friends and acquaintances. I appreciate them both. I like seeing pictures and hearing updates about family life and even general musings about nothing in particular. Thanks to the "Hide" button, if someone turns out to be particularly wacky, I control whether I ever "hear" from them again. (A benefit I sometimes wish I had in real life!)

    Although I don't have any friends I have NEVER met face to face, I do believe quality friendships on-line can be maintained. I believe there is a strength in physical anonymity. That person is always "there" for you. When you are communicating on-line, you can finish a thought without being interrupted. You can express opinions and personal histories otherwise not shared due to fear of judgement in the glance of the human eye. There is a concern, however, that such intimate on-line friendships could never continue in real life….

    I have never felt that I must sacrifice one for the other. Each type of friend has their own place in my life. I devote MUCH more time to my real life friends, because they are in my real life. Lisa

  10. "Are on-line friends REAL friends?"

    That is hard to know as you can portray yourself to be anyone you wish behind the shroud of internet anonymity. Likewise, as real as you attempt to portray yourself on-line, others will not fully perceive you as you are, either by internet limitations or their own conceptions.

    Are the social networking relationships true friendships, or is it more about passing the time on-line? And though two people might really connect on-line over a deep issue, is it really a friendship or is it more about the discussion/issue or even just yourself?

  11. No virtual friends for me, I only "do" the real deal… need a face, a voice, and the ability to hug a friend every now and again.

  12. Sandy, how I've missed you!

    However, this is one post that I must comment on. You see, I've had the pleasure of meeting many of my virtual blogging friends in real life. It was their heart that I first loved as I read their blogs. When you share from your heart and are honest, it draws people in.

    Sassy Granny aka Kathleen has become such a close friend of mine. We met in bloggy world and facebook but when I moved closer to where she lives, we agreed to meet in person. That was the start of a beautiful friendship that continues.

    Sara of Splash' Glory is another example. Mary of Pile of Smiles and Iris of Laced with Grace. Oh and not to forget Lori of Lori's Reflections. There are even more I could mention but don't want to take up so much space.

    I was even asked to friend a sister of one of my virtual friends and she has accompanied me several times to church. She is not a believer YET.

    As far as Facebook is concerned, I've reconnected with so many high school friends which I enjoy. When I go to our 40th reunion next year (yes, you read that number right), it really breaks the ice because even though I've not seen many old friends for years I know aa bit about what's been going on.

    I also have connected with many in my family who still live in our native country Norway. I've been invited to stay at our family farm in Sumstad, Norway! How cool is that?

    Since I've been stuck at home and down to one car in our family, it helps me to have social interaction online. I still have many real life friendships, but I've been blessed with new friends through our virtual world of blogging.

    I think it's important to have a balance though.

    Hugs to you Sandy,

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