Why internet friends are real friends…

Have you noticed that with technology our friend circles have drastically increased?  And I’m not talking about Facebook friends who you never talk to (that’s a post for another day) but real friends that you can turn to without question or have you spitting out your drink with laughter?  No?  Then maybe you need to get online more because the people I’m talking about are ‘internet friends’.

Well, YOU might call them internet friends since most of them I haven’t met but for me, they’re real friends whether we talk online or in person (or a mix of both if we connect on Skype).  I name-drop them in conversations with other friends, we have in-jokes, we share advice or a listening ear when we need to; they are no different to the friends I have made at home, there’s just a little physical distance between us.

The problem with my ‘internet friendships’ comes when I have to explain them to ‘real’ friends and family. ‘But how can they be your friend if you’ve never met them?’ ‘What do you really have to talk about’?  The list is endless and you know what, a few years ago I would have understood the questions.  I was lucky enough to grow up with a computer in my house meaning that I was one of the first people I knew to get the internet when it became readily available.  This then meant that I was in chat-rooms aged 13 making friends; such good friends that they (and their parents) travelled for miles so that we could meet each other.  Even family members thought I was a freak for ‘believing’ that anyone on the internet could be a) real b) a true friend c) free of serial killer tendencies.

Thinking things through

Times have changed and technology has become a daily part of our lives without us even realising and yet people still question how a friend online can be called a friend at all.  It’s called conversation and effort.

I’ve met so many people through Twitter which has lead to meeting them in ‘real life’ as well.  When I go to London, as much as I detest the city with a passion, it’s full of people that I love.  At the end of last year after a visit to the city, I spoke to one of my ‘internet friends’ and said that seeing her had reminded me how much I missed her.  Her reply explains it all:

“I forget that my internet friends are just as real and important to me as the friends I grew up with (if not more important sometimes!)”.  Never a truer word has been spoken.

Over the past year, as I often wasn’t well enough to even leave the house, my ‘internet’ friends became one of the most important things I had and without them and the technology to be in touch with my best friend at home all the time, I would have struggled to keep my head above water.  They became my lifeline.  My joke-tellers.  My voice of reason.  The people I turned to when I had no-one else.  You can’t let me tell you that and question whether or not they are true friends.

I may never meet some of my friends but doesn’t mean I don’t carry them around with me in conversations or in  technology that’s sat in my bag. My ‘physical’ friends were great, truly, but my internet friends became more important in some respects; possibly because of our shared love of travel.  Many of us share the same dream of being able to ‘live the life’ and travel for as long as we can and they also know what it takes to do that; things that my ‘real ‘friends didn’t know which meant that when I struggled to see what I needed to do to help myself; they were there with suggestions and advice.  That doesn’t meant that my ‘real’ friends were any less important to me as a whole but we all become more and less useful to each other at certain points in friendships.

We all seek different things from friendships at different times according to how we’re feeling or what our situations are but realising that our friends are not defined by ‘real’ or ‘internet’ is the key to appreciating all the friendships that we are lucky enough to be part of.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the other side of the world or just up the road; I’m still your friend.

So how about we stop calling each other ‘real’ or ‘internet’ friends and just accept that friendships come from all over the place and include a huge variety of people.

We’re just as special as each other 🙂

Leave a Reply

26 comments

  1. They’ve said it before, ‘times, they are a changin’ and if you don’t change with them, they’ll leave you behind, in the past right there with the rotary phone and the type writer.

    Just because people don’t understand a relationship doesn’t give them the right to knock it.

    Power to the likeminded and kind-hearted internet friends, I say!

  2. So VERY true! I have a community of people I’ve “known” since 1997. Over the many years they’ve proven themselves time and time again to be REAL friends, even though I’ve never met most of them in real life.

    A relationship doesn’t have to exist in the traditional form to still be valid. Very few of my “family” actually act like family. But many of my chosen family are TRULY family, and many of them I’ve never met in person.

    Friends are friends. So right!

  3. YAY for REAL friends whether they’re from your hometown pr from the other side of the world xx

  4. Carol Reese

    When I had to switch from working in the hospital to working at home because my asthma was so bad that I could barely leave the house, the internet community of medical transcriptionists was a real lifeline for me, helped me keep my sanity. I’ve been in touch with many of these people now for 17 years now. I’ve met a few, and they were just as delightful in person as over the internet. I’m hoping to meet more of my friends when I travel this summer.

    And guess what else? I’ve found and met relatives I didn’t know I had, and communicate with them over the internet, too. And reconnected with friends from my past, some of whom I haven’t seen since high school, which was 50 years ago!

  5. Amen!

    I remember meeting my first internet friends in 1998 and friends I knew in person thought I was crazy when I planned to meet a few internet friends offline.

    Thank goodness for internet friends — it’s how I came to know the great group of friends I have in London, and five years after meeting them in person, they introduced me to a new member of their group — my now husband 🙂

    Coming home from Oz hasn’t been easy. Old friends have moved on or have challenges in their life that prevent them from really being there for me. Internet friends are some of my closest at the moment!

  6. so so true! they’re the kind of people you can chat to about anything, although most of mine are now bloggers I’ve yet to meet! 🙂

  7. So true! I have some online friends who became really good friends actually. Some of them are closer to me than people I have met in person. Weird isn’t it?

  8. I have no doubt if I were to talk to my friends and family back home about travel all the time, they would get sick of it.

  9. Kate – Amen! Relationships come in so many varieties these days and with all kinds of people…just because it’s different, it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong 🙂
    Internet friends are amazing!

  10. Talon – I think you’ve hit the nail on the head: ‘they’ve proven themselves time and time again to be READ friends’…so ridiculously true! They say when you go through bad times in life that it’s the time when you find out who your true friends are and I couldn’t agree more!

    It’s the age old saying isn’t it? You can pick your friends but not your family…how amazing then that we get to pick such an incredible family to surround ourselves with 🙂

  11. Scarlett – I’m HONOURED to call you my friend 🙂

  12. Clark – that’s the thing isn’t it Clark? Friends that truly understand you! Such a blessing!

  13. Carol – I’m sorry to hear about your asthma but what a lovely side effect to make such great friends and to get to meet them in person! As you said, they really help keep you sanity don’t they? I was the same when I was off work with my breakdown…talking to them through Facebook or Skype etc was often the highlight of my day or even week!

    And how amazing that you discovered some new relatives! The internet really can be used for such incredible things can’t it?! 🙂

  14. Heather – yep, I remember people thinking I was ‘crazy’…now they’re the ones losing friends and I’m gaining them lol. And how amazing that you met your husband through your internet friends; just incredible! 😀
    I think, with the freedom of the internet, comes the ability to seek out like-minded people and so they can become that much more needed or supportive when you’re going through things and thank goodness for that! 🙂

  15. Chris – Yes! Chatting about everything and anything is the sign of a great friend and how amazing that you still have so many friends yet to meet 🙂

  16. Tammy – I think it’s because, in a sense, many people are more open through written than vocal words and therefore we get to know people a little better which ultimately leads to stronger relationships and what a great thing that is!

  17. John – another great reason to have friends online…people who share your passion and hobbies! 🙂

  18. So true… I have so many people that I’ve only met in the virtual world that I do consider close friends.

    When trying to explain this to others, I think the term I like best is ‘kindred spirits’. There are deeper things than physical location that bind us…

    Meeting so many of these people is the only reason I’m going to TBEX- I’m sure meeting those people will make up for the annoyance of being ‘dismissed’ by the ‘big bloggers’ 🙂

  19. Amazing post. This is actually incredible how many friends I have at the moment thanks to blogging and being active online. These people are my real friends who I can rely on a lot.

  20. I’ve had plenty of people (mainly other bloggers) give me great advice and impact me quite a bit. Though I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting them, they’ve made their mark and have often resulted in meet ups around the world. How else would we have that opportunity?

  21. Agness – I know what you mean! My friendship circle has grown so much since I began blogging and I’m so grateful for it! It’s great that we all get to ‘meet’ each other and become good friends 🙂

  22. Kristin – I couldn’t agree more! So many bloggers have had such huge influences on me and my life and some of them I may never actually meet but it doesn’t stop them being any less important does it? I think blogging can lead to so many amazing opportunities 🙂

  23. Christopher – I’ve met several; the internet can be a wonderful place 🙂

  24. Hermione

    Hello! I couldn’t agree more and I am so jealous that you have met yours!