June 03, 2005

What is friendship, anyway?

I was kicking this question around with my wife last night. The conversation started because she asked me what I get out of this blog, now that I've been doing it for awhile. I told her that, inter alia, I've made some friends and that took us to the question at the heart of this post: can you be friends with someone only through virtual reality? I told her yes but I want to expand upon my thoughts here.

I don't think that you need to be in the same room with someone to be friends with that person. Sure, having a few too many beers with someone, putting 'em in a headlock, giving him a noogie, all while saying "I luuv you, you little fu*ker" is truly a tangible indication of friendship. But is it necessary? No. How many of you have had penpals before? Would you consider them friends? I would.

No, I 've made friends here, even if I can't stay out let and drink/eat/talk too much with them and even if I've only met two of them in person -- Helen and Amanda -- that doesn't mean I don't value them just the same. That said, I sure would like to have drinks with some of you, and I think you know who you are (said in my very best Billy Crystal voice).

Posted by Random Penseur at June 3, 2005 10:10 AM

I think the sort of people who are drawn to blogging and reading blogs, and who stick with it, are also the sort of people who can have friendships from afar, with an exchange of thoughts and words. I think some of us combine a desire to observe, wonder, imagine and communicate with a mild introversion and selectivity about friendships. Blogs are a sort of controlled-rate filter of the world and other people.

Posted by: Amy at June 3, 2005 11:37 AM

First of all, I'm jealous as hell that you've met Helen. I never have. But I consider her among my nearest and dearest of friends.

Which goes to the second part. "Some of my best friends are bloggers." Yes, I believe friendships can be forged through this little community we all share. Real ones. Meaningful ones. The kind where you look forward every single day to finding out what went on in their world, sharing life experiences, sympathizing, celebrating...all of those things that truly define a connection between people.

It's the one thing that keeps me blogging no matter what. The sharing. The caring. The respect and the common ground.

Posted by: Jennifer at June 3, 2005 12:12 PM

I have been online (first with AOHell and Hecklers Online) for more than ten years now.

Online is real.

I think I said it here.

Posted by: Margi at June 3, 2005 03:19 PM

I guess it's time to tug on Paul's e-mail and ask how to tweak my HTACCESS file again. Heh. Sorry about that.

Let's just say that for as long as I've been online (hell, I attended an online WAKE fachrissakes) I have found it very difficult to explain to the uninitiated just how strong the bonds can be.

Sure, I think it's important -- if you're looking for love or something that will move into "meatspace" -- to spend time in the person's actual presence to get a feel for whom they really are. . .but by and large, I look upon The IntarwebnetAOL to be just a different form of communication.

I mean, I have IM conversations/private chat transcripts between myself and Darling Hubby burned to disk and tied with a ribbon -- they were love letters just as real as if the postal service delivered them.


Posted by: Margi at June 3, 2005 03:56 PM

i think i will just sit here and nod my head.
everyone has expressed it so very well.

i do think it is sometimes hard for those that don't experience it to understand.
i know i had no idea - before i started it would be this way.

Posted by: sn at June 3, 2005 05:30 PM

I've been thinking alot about this lately. What a nice post as well as beautiful comments. I SO agree with Amy and Jennifer and Margi!

"I think some of us combine a desire to observe, wonder, imagine and communicate with a mild introversion and selectivity about friendships."

How beautifully said! And so true! (For me)

My blogging buddies seem to be the closest thing i have to friends these days. And strangely, it seems so real! What better testimony than the fact that i met and moved in with my partner having previously only known him through blogging. (And later phonecalls.) We didn't let the absence of physical presence get in the way of our connection - and later on, being together physically only added to the already wonderful experience of knowing him. The bond we shared already existed: all through communicating through words on our blogs.

Who could have guessed?

Can't wait for that drink someday. It's gonna be great. ;0)

Posted by: indigo at June 3, 2005 05:34 PM

Drinks? Drinks? Man, what happened to thong watching at the First Annual Dumbass Conference and Thong Watch? And the "I'm with Stupid --->" t-shirts?

Oh well, a drink would still be cool...not as cool as thong watching, but still cool.

Posted by: Howard at June 3, 2005 05:51 PM

Congratulations on 30,000! I look forward to getting to know you better.

Posted by: Elise at June 3, 2005 08:06 PM

Some of my closest friends, people I email and tell things to, people I send gifts to and love, are people I've never met. I never thought that a URL could hide people who know, and understand, and love. I never thought I could make friends anywhere, let alone someone whose bathroom cupboards I've never perused.

The connotation that "cyber friends = loser" is a theory that went by the wayside a long time ago, dying the same death as Atari.

They may be behind a computer terminal, but they're friends. There are some that even if I walked away from blogging today, I would want to hear from forever. You're one of them. I love the people that not only comment, but email and share. I think of you as the few peple that can help me keep my head on straight :)

PS-I love you too, Jennifer! :)

Posted by: Helen at June 4, 2005 04:38 AM

Did I forget to hit POST? Oh Well. Congrats RP...May you have a million more.

Posted by: dr pants at June 4, 2005 06:56 AM

I heartily agree with what you, Amy and the others' have commented on.

After losing all my friends on 9/11 I really had no interest to form any attachments, let alone friendships. Blogging just coincedently allowed me the space, freedom and time to connect with individuals in a comfortable setting and manner. Slowly but surely, bloggers began to enter my life. I was sort of adopted, much like a mascot I guess, and from there I have developed a few incredible friendships and the circle continues to expand as the commenting/visiting continues.

I have also discovered that this is not a medium for all people, only that of a very unique select few.

In retrospect, I truly believe this medium saved my life, without me even knowing it. What I discovered in the process of the past 4 years is that the old poem is true: "no man is an island".

Thanks for posting this; and I wish you many more visitors in half the time!

Posted by: michele at June 5, 2005 09:09 PM

Abso-freaking-lutely! Heck, I met my wife online. In another country. Friendship and love online are very real.

Posted by: Jim at June 6, 2005 03:07 PM

Well, now that you're just a stone's throw away we'll have to get together soonly for a brewski.

The only blogger I've met in person so far is Stephen Macklin, though I've talked to Jennifer on the phone. Stephen and I will be getting together with Ted for lunch when he comes up this way next month. Too bad you work in NYC. We could've made it a Munuvian Quartet!

Posted by: Tuning Spork at June 6, 2005 11:10 PM
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