Balancing God and Life, Part 15 :Are On-line Friends Real Friends? The Final Chapter
“Call me naive, but far from being the bottomless repository of oddballs and potential serial killers, the internet is full of lively minded, like-minded engaging people – for the first time in history we’re lucky enough to choose friends not by location or luck, but pinpoint perfect friends by rounding up people with amazingly similar interests, matching politics, senses of humour, passionate feelings about the most infinitesimally tiny hobby communities. The friends I have now might be spread wide, geographically, but I’m closer to them than anyone I went to school with, by about a million miles.” ~Anna Pickard at Guardian.co.uk
I realized as I sat down to write this post, while I had much more to say about on-line friends vs. real-life friends, I couldn’t say it better than you already did. So rather than beat a dead horse, I’ll just summarize my opinion and step out of the way to let you speak.
I believe friendship comes down to communication styles and/or preferences, coupled with different seasons of life. Clearly, many people prefer face-to-face contact to sitting at a computer. Some love hearing a voice instead of reading an e-mail. Still others (me included) cherish the written word –both reading it and writing it—over a phone pressed to their ears. Many of us (me included again) have discovered a whole new world of interesting people via the internet with whom we would have never communicated had we not taken the time to post a comment or read a blog. Some on-line friends even become real-life friends. I have many.
I also think most of us agree that on-line friendships should not be our ONLY source of human interaction. Heaven forbid we all become hoarder-cat lady-types, isolated in our little apartments, playing round-the-clock Farmville.
And given unlimited time and resources, I think most of us would choose to linger over dinner with our best friend over leaving a comment on a Facebook status update.
But, alas, our time and resources are severely limited, so we do what we can do to maintain some sense of contact with people we like. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.
If I learned anything from your comments on this subject, I now know that if I lived near all of you, I’d have a lot of work-out buddies and be drinking A LOT of coffee. I also learned that you are an insightful bunch. Your comments the last few days were outstanding. You truly enlightened me with your heart-felt responses to my last two posts. You blew me away with your passion, on all ends of the spectrum.
So, I’ll end this post and this subject (for now) by handing the keyboard over to you—my on-line friends—and giving you a sampling of your opinions on the subject:
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.
Online friends better be real 😉
I say you can be true friends with someone online but you share a different type of connection with them.
One can only have so many true friendships, and intimate trusting heart relationships are rare and precious, take time to cultivate, and develop mainly through shared life experiences. That can’t happen on the computer for sure!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 judgment in the glance of the human eye.
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.
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.
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.
Like your life, mine is very hectic (it doesn’t get a whole lot better as your children get older, they somehow get busier!) Often times, the only way my real friends and I keep up with each other’s activities is through e-mail and Facebook.
While I do see facebook as a potential “waste of time” to get caught up in being fake and shallow and playing endless games, I use it to keep up my friendships, reconnect with old friends, and share life with family and friends that live far away.
My sis also adopted from Uganda and she has met some of her closest friends who could relate to her experience thru her blog.
Quick emails, comments on FB, blogging or texting work better for me than keeping in touch by phone. If I had to rely on my letter writing or card sending, it would put me back in time…when I rarely ever sent a letter or a card.
Great post and one I have debated with a few non computer friends. They just happen to be friends that spend probably 30 hours a week playing bridge… One even told me only really bored people would spend their time communicating with strangers.
As a single mom of a preschooler who works full time at a demanding job, my ability to connect face to face is tough. If I only rely on that, I would live a very lonely and friendless existence… Whether it is a sign of the times or not, I think that it is a sign of the times that women are finding other ways of connecting with other women during a season of their lives when otherwise they would be very isolated and alone. So if technology has allowed me the blessing and privilege of connecting with others and vice versa….I think it’s a good thing.
Me too, my dear friend…me too.