Are online friendships “real”? Is anything really real? It all comes down to perception. Don’t we invent our own reality? Does absolute reality exist? Isn’t matter completely invisible? Isn’t our reality defined by our sense perception? If reality is invisible, and we give it form; is it real? What does it all mean? I haven’t got a clue. I’m paging the great Dr. Mark Kingwell, philosopher on call.
Let’s take the word “real” out of the equation and focus on what friendship means. (Perception)
What constitutes a friend? It boils down to an individual’s needs. For myself, I am not a people person. I don’t need a constant physical presence to feel fulfilled. To me, a friend is someone who gives emotional support, who is there to listen and, with whom I can be myself. I choose quality over quantity. I have many associates but few friends. I’m very selective with whom I open up to. Some of my friends I have yet to meet in “real life”. However, I have spent countless hours on the phone with them. I’m always there to lend an ear. I support their projects. If they needed me, I would be there. We share our secrets, our woes, our highs and lows ((there second nature to me now) Friends are a source of growth and enrichment. Other friendships have started online and ended up offline. I’ve been really blessed. I’ve met some truly amazing people. There’s a closeness there that supersedes the physical.
In our contemporary society, making friends online is the new norm. Social media has changed the landscape of friendship. The ease now in which we can keep in touch is incredible. What I do online and offline are completely interwoven. Intimacy now develops in both the physical and online realms, often crossing freely between the two. The beauty of online friendships lies in their mutability in my purse, on my screen, in the comfort of my home. As time goes on, I think the distinction between on- and offline friendships will dissipate. That doesn’t mean that we are doom to a life, of tweets and emails. It simply means that the person we meet in the virtual realm is no longer a stranger, but someone we know and trust.