The Nation's Health + Social Networking

2013

"29 year old female, talking to imaginary friends in a make believe world"

I read a blog today by the wonderful @Eliza_Do_Lots, author of MommaTwo. The post 'Internet Isn't Real Life' really riled me! OK, admittedly, that doesn't take much, but this subject has been the cause of a number of argument in 'real life' so I thought it was time to have my say. You can go read her blog first, but the question being asked, is, are friendships made online any less 'real' than ones formed by meeting in person?

When I get home from work, to unwind, I stick the telly on, sit on the sofa with my laptop or iPad and may write a blog. Or, I may chat to people on Twitter on my phone or whatever. There are so many social networks out there, I use 3 or 4, others use more, others use less. Through twitter, I have made some very real friends. Friends I can confide in, friends I can laugh with and friends I now meet up with. Unfortunately, it's a very big world and it isn't necessarily easy to travel the length of the country for a coffee. It also isn't very cost effective to get on a plane and travel to Australia or Canada to have a chin wag. Does that make these people I consider friends any less so?

If my housemate is to be believed I am a 'sad act'. A 'loser'. I just spend my time speaking to my 'pathetic imaginary friends' or 'tapping away on my stupid blog'. How unsociable of me. I should instead be sitting watching golf, in silence, like he does. He, the 35 year old, single man with only one serious relationship in his past who comes home drunk most nights and only plays golf all weekend. Yes. I'm a sad act! Sad for meeting new people. Sad for having interesting conversations and debates. Sad for not spending money down the pub every night. I love how sad I am! The only reason he is there is because I can't afford a place big enough for me and my boy without his rent!

How do you know most of your 'real life' friends? Did you meet them at school? Where you were put into a class and friendships were then formed? Or do they come from work? Where you happened to work in the same place and attended social events leaving you being friendly with many but very few you'd share your intimate secrets with. Or do they come from friends of friends or chance meetings in public places?! How open are any of you to a stranger striking up a conversation? If train journeys are anything to go by i'd say not very! People don't really meet new people any more. How many of your 'real life' friends have you known less than two years? I bet most, if not all of you are struggling to fill one hand!

Online friendships can be very real. They are formed on common interests and good conversations without the prejudice and snap judgment face to face encounters can be full of. They grow slowly without forever trying to undo that first impression that a face to face encounter has left. They are real. It is 2013 for gods sake, why can't people be friends with who they want and when they want without being judged. I consider some of the people have met, and am yet to meet, through social networking as some of my best friends. They are no less real than someone I went to school with. To belittle these friendships as 'not real life' is like throwing an insult at a friend standing next me. I won't put up with it and I will instantly alienate myself from the person judging me and them.

The people who question these friendships and mock the online world are the same people who laughed at online dating ten years ago. Now online dating is the norm and more relationships are formed by the internet than down the pub, where bravado is in constant supply. It's also the same people who probably make all their calls on their landline, haven't upgraded their mobile since the Nokia 5110 and look up numbers in the phone book. Get with the times people because us losers online (the majority of the population now) are laughing at you.

Rant over. Thank you @Eliza_Do_Lots (2013 real life friend i've never met) for inspiring the rant.

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