Ruby brought up a subject today that I’ve been pondering for awhile and have been meaning to write about. The subject is friendship.
What is a friend? I think MySpace and Facebook, et al, have diluted the concept of the word.
Will you be my friend? Can I be your friend? I have 1.5 million friends!
MySpace friends may or may not be people you actually know anything about, thus stretching the word out to its broadest definition as “one who patronizes a group.” But that is not the commonly used form of the word in our society. To most, a friend is more than just a smiling picture on a website. So what exactly do we mean when we say someone is a friend?
To me (and I can only speak for myself here), first and foremost, friendship is a trust relationship. Friends are people you can confide in without fear. They’re people you can say the most outrageous things to without worrying about offense. They will listen when you cry or complain. They will laugh when you laugh. They are someone you share interests with. Friends are not jealous of your other friends and will not gossip about you behind your back. If you’re lucky enough (like me) to have a really old friend, you probably have a secret language with references no one else understands. They probably know all your recurring dreams and what book you’re currently reading. If you’re a women, you know about your best girlfriend’s sex frequency and when her periods are and how bad the cramps were this month.
So here’s the question of the day. Can a person you know only through the internet be a real friend?
In my opinion, the answer is yes, I think so. Personal blogging is an exercise in trust. You trust that what you write will be received in a compassionate way. You slowly develop a network of like-minded bloggers and form a mutual admiriation society of sorts. You slowly reveal bits of information that show your vulnerability and your strengths. You share yourself with others and they with you.
I don’t know the people I blog with in real life (except V). I’ve never sat down with them and spent an afternoon just talking, and there’s a real possibility that we could find ourselves suddenly with nothing to say (ha!). But here and now, we have a personal connection based on trust and similar likes/dislikes. Perhaps we’re establishing a new paradigm for the term friend. Some organizations, like BlogHer have a yearly convention where virtual friends meet and become real life friends.
Maybe the real test will be later, when some decide they just can’t write a blog anymore. And that’s the rub, isn’t it? Do we really expect to do this blogging gig forever? And what happens then?
I don’t know the answer and I guess it’s something we’ll all have to figure out someday. In the meantime, I embrace my relationships I’ve built here and consider many of you friends. I may not know when your last period was or who you’re currently shagging, but maybe I know what makes you cry and what makes your heart sing. I can read your honest words and laugh at your outrageous humor and feel a connection with you, a real person, sitting at the other computer.
So I open up this question to all of you: Can a person you know only through the internet be a real friend?