Are Online Friendships Real?
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|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. ]]]