As we all spend more and more time online more of our friends will be people we have met online. Does a friendship require that you meet up in the real world? Can an online friendship evolve into a romantic relationship? Can online friendships compare to those you form in school?
My Online Friends
My life revolves around the Internet. It wasn’t always like that, I used to teach and meet real people every day. I have just two friends from my 28 years of teaching. Since I started working online four years ago and meeting virtual people I have made too many friends to count.
Now I know you can debate whether those people are real friends or not, but they fit my definition of friends. A friend to me is someone who will put himself or herself out to help me, someone who cares about my well-being.
I have made friends thousands of miles away, who I will probably never meet, but who would put me up for the night if I was ever within 20 miles of them and phoned. Some of these people I have not spoken to in two years, because our daily lives have diverged, but I know they are still there for me if I need their help.
My friendships largely evolved through contacts at InfoBarrel.com, MyBlogGuest.com and MyBlogU.com. I talk to people on Twitter chats, Google Hangouts and forums; sometimes we hit it off and our friendships have become deeper.
In 2010 I found the InfoBarrel forum to be a great source of friendship and the emotional support that I needed at that time after losing my job. I found that people were super-helpful on writing-related topics and in turn I shared the knowledge that I had. I can recommend InfoBarrel to any writer who is looking to make friends online.
In 2014 I joined MyBlogU at the site’s launch and have had many conversations with other bloggers that have arisen from our interactions on the site. I can wholeheartedly recommend MyBlogU.com to any blogger who is looking for online friends; people on the site help each other out even when they are working in different niches.
Others’ Online Friends
I asked people at MyBlogU.com about their ideas on online friendships in a brainstorm request. There were six replies from: Tat Apostolova, Jeevan Jacob John, Mark W Kuglin, Daniel Garcia, Pete Kontakos and Erica Martin.
A few people made the point that friends and acquaintances are not the same and that friendships are not all the same, that some are deeper than others. A few people told me of online friendships that have led to romance and marriage and I know several real world couples who have met through online working relationships and dating sites including uDate.com and AOL.
Friends often evolve from working relationships and mutual friends on social media sites. Even a social media cynic like me has to think that making real friends through Twitter or Facebook might just counteract all the pointless noise that these channels generate.
One contributor told me how he made real-life friends using Facebook by commenting on friends posts and then looking up other people who commented on the same post and making direct contact.
One woman told me of bloggers from the Australian community site Digital Parents who have become real world friends who meet up regularly.
BlogEngage.com comes highly recommended as a means to build meaningful relationships with other bloggers in similar areas by helping one another out in small ways. The site is organised to help you find bloggers with similar or complementary interests.
Special Online Friendships
One friend from the Philippines told me of online friends he made through the backpacker site, HelpX.net – who had visited him and who later sent him financial help when he was affected by a typhoon. These are people who would have loved to be there to physically help, but distance and other commitments meant that that was not an option, but they were able to help with money to pay for food and local help.
The Internet allows friendships that would be frowned upon in the real world, such as those between men and women of widely differing ages. One person told me the moving story of how he met his online virtual daughter on Twitter because they were tweeting on the same subject. He will never meet her, but it is still a very deep friendship that could only have evolved online.
Your Internet Friends
Do you have online friends, people you can count on to be there for you when you need them? Would you like to share your own story in the comments below? We would love to hear about your online friendships . . . Click in the comments box below.