Are Online Friendships Real?

Avatar for champagneonice
Community Leader
Registered: 11-15-2001
Are Online Friendships Real?
3
Thu, 06-13-2013 - 6:42pm

I received the following in my email and it touched a soft spot wihin me. Maybe we've all had online friendships - I know I have. There were 2 people that I met here on iVillage almost 14 years ago and our friendship blossomed. I know one of those friends passed away and the other stopped replying to my emails. I thought something might have happened to her, as well, so I began to search for her. I found her, very much alive, but the friendship was over. She was busy building on a new life and didn't have time to corresponed any longer. It broke my heart. We had exchanged adresses and phone numbers, sent pictures and "care" packages and it was difficult for me to comprehend the fact that she was no longer interested in continuing the friendship. Maybe, too, she felt that since we lived light years away from one another, we'd never meet in person as we once had talked about doing. Whatever the reason, I still miss her, but she lent something to my life that I otherwise wouldn't have had. The memories are sweet and I hold them close to my heart.

[[[ I've read a few articles and blog posts recently that attempted to belittle the value of online friendships.
While some of their criticisms raise valid points, the conclusion that online friendships aren't real is something I take issue with. Let me tell you a quick story that illustrates why...

When I first started online, one of my first subscribers was a woman who I'll call Anne. She was just starting her online business too, and often looked to me for advice.

Anne was also supportive of what I was doing, and offered her own thoughts and ideas. She always had a kind, encouraging word for me. Our online relationship blossomed into a friendship. We talked about family and raising kids, our hopes and dreams, our mutual eye problems and so much more.

A while back when I sent Anne an email she didn't reply. I figured she was just busy. Her business had become as successful in her field as mine was in my field. No big deal, there were times when we both got too busy to reply quickly, but we always replied as soon as we could. I knew she'd write back when she had time.

Only she didn't write back this time. I wrote to her again, and again there was no reply. In fact, my email to her bounced back as undeliverable. I guessed she changed her email address because the other one was getting overwhelmed by spam.

I tried to go to her website to use her contact form, but her site wasn't there. Her domain had expired. Now I was concerned, so I did a search for her name. That's when I discovered she had suddenly passed away!

I lost a friend. I never got to meet her in person, but it felt just as horrible as losing a friend from the "real" world. Yes, I shed a few tears.

Don't tell me online friendships aren't real.

Maybe we never get to shake their hand, or hug them, but we can still share our hearts with them. And THAT is at the core of any deep friendship.

Goodbye Anne. You added value to my life that no one else could, simply by being yourself. Thank you for being my friend. ]]]

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Community Leader
Registered: 07-31-1998
Fri, 06-14-2013 - 2:26am

Geri,

I am with you! I think internet or on-line friendships are real. I have only met two people physically here in iVillage in the 15 years that I have been a member. The first one I went out to have coffee with and neither of us knew what the other looked like but when I walked into the coffee shop we immediately knew each other. She has retired and moved away and so I never hear from her anymore. I often wonder how she is. There are others that I have talked to many times on the diabetes board and I no longer hear from them and I wonder and worry about them. I hope they are doing well. One was Paul who was a supper person and when we had a man come the board he would be sure to talk to them. Paul was an older person with a number of really serious health problems and I am afraid that he may have passed on.

Carol, Cheryl, Molly, Nancy and Barbara and I communicate all the time. I have met Carol in real life but the others I chat with on the internet sometimes daily and I consider them to be my friends. I have known these women for many years and we are spread out all over. I hope someday to see Poppy who lives in Malaysia when I am in that part of the world. I think this is one of the wonderful things about iVillage, that we are able to develop real and lasting friendships.

Just my humble opinion!!

I hope things are going well for you and I have been wondering how your mom is doing.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Sat, 06-15-2013 - 5:27pm

I agree that online friendships are real. There are several people that I met through the iVillage boards that I consider to be friends, 3 of whom I have met IRL, stayed in each other's homes, the husbands have met and got along---so I consider them to be like any other friend who lives far away, we don't see each other often and mostly keep in touch through the boards or through email.

My brother has also made friends online. I don't know the details of how he met them, probably through a forum for a shared hobby. Anyway a few of them have stayed in his home, and he has stayed with a few in Europe and S. America. I don't know if they are close friends (as I consider the women I met at iV) but good enough friends to welcome into each others' homes.

The friendships that never meet in IRL do seem to fade more easily than those who meet in person; but that doesn't mean that we don't miss our interaction when the person disappears. When the person stops communicating due to illness or death, it would be nice if somebody would let the email penpals and forums know. I guess I'll have to make sure I write down some instructions, in case I am not able to tell my caretaker what to do.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-18-2007
Sun, 07-07-2013 - 8:44pm

Online friendships remain important to me.  Contacts with some of my online friends were extremely important during a time of transition when I was forming some new face to face friendships.  Their encouragement helped me through some struggles.  They were and still are very special to me.  We have shared life's ups,.downs, and moments of humor.

The machine ate part of my message.  Sorry.  As someone else told me, it is jealous of my tablet =)

 

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