Virtual friends

What are virtual friends? Wikipedia definitions include imaginary, pets, pseudonyms, a non-player character in a game, and apparently there is a song too. They also say, people met online.That is what I want to talk about, to wonder about, and think about how close they are to ‘real’ friends, who are people I have met face-to-face.

Virtual Connection?

I have been thinking about this for a while, especially as I have been travelling and my friendship circles are all over the world, sometimes overlapping as such circles do, sometime quite apparently separate. And of course there are differences in depth and meaning from acquaintance to absolutely grateful this person is there. So there are differences and queries and feelings abounding about the meaning of friendship. (I even wrote a brief article for Edinburgh U3A magazine, the Clarion, and my real friend M wrote one too, you wouldn’t think we knew each other so well!)

But mostly one of the important things about friendship is not-thinking, more feeling experiencing, never mind what it actually is. The sense of friendship can happen anytime anywhere, is not about longevity, not about commonality, not about mutual agreement. This post to wonder about virtual friends is inspired by Sidey, about whom I know little of detail, but much of blogging thoughts, who responded to my Being a Granny post with “what a nice personal view…”.

[Another preoccupation of my wandering thoughts – when is personal OK, being genuine, and when is it me indulging myself? etc. Everyone who posts will have thought a bit about this one. [I did too]. But look at the tagline on every one of my posts which has been there since it began:

Saying who and where I am for those who would want to know… a diary for myself, friends and family…

I had a webpage once, when I was working professionally. It still exists. I did not know about blogs. I began this blog because of all those circles of friends in different places, who seemed to be getting cut and paste emails which sounded like “Christmas Letters” and weren’t properly me writing to that friend. Hence the tag-line and why I blog: it is still so that all those who want to can know what I have been up to and even keep tabs on which continent I am currently residing in. All my posts are about ‘me’ personal in some way. [And my real-time friends and family get emails to them, or be-together time, without all the me stuff cluttering up the space.]

Sorry this is getting so long. What I need to say, is what I did NOT know when I started blogging.

I didn’t know I would meet people online. Of course I knew strangers could read my blog – it is public – but what happened? Someone responded with interest (she knows who she is). I am both polite and curious, so I replied, and looked at her post, liked it, had a look at the long list of ‘other blogs’ at the side of her post. I liked some of those too. Nuff said, you all know what happened next, I began to follow some, OMG I even got followers on mine [not many – I do not feel competitive or bothered about numbers].

Now, I have virtual friends. People I want to hear about, people who seem to want to hear about me.

What does it mean to feel connected, genuinely connected, to someone I have never met, in many cases have not seen a photo of them, may not even know their actual name? I may not be sure what age they are, what profession they follow, etc. I know well that unconscious mind does not like a vacuum and without some effort to allow don’t know it will rush to create assumptions and fantasies, even expectation, which can be dispelled or disappointed or betrayed on further acquaintance. This is so for real meetings also. So when I say ‘genuine connection’ it is NOT everyone, the same as with ‘real’ friends. [I value my acquaintances too, and colleagues.] Knowledge and acquaintanceship, even liking, is not my criterion for friendship. There is something so far as I am concerned, indefinable in the connection. I think it over-rides the unconscious fantasy and assumption  – it connects – across all the possible similarities and differences, it outweighs the lot of them.

in Beijing

All the time I have been writing this, I have been thinking of my friend MeiMei – a real friend I have known only 7 years but met infrequently in that time. A different age, a different culture, a different stage of life, but we always get on and always care, and we connect. We are friends. There are others who span the age gap, or have different life history, somehow came in to the friendship connection zone – you know who you are. (If you read this Mei Mei – send another email! and xxx oooo.)

Now, virtual connection is sneaking up on me. I didn’t know that it was going to be there.

Zemanta lets me see how lots and lots of people have blogged about friendship – some differently some similarly. We are so fortunate.

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13 thoughts on “Virtual friends

  1. It is strange in the nicest way, these virtual friendships. I have more or less a photo blog, and it’s great to converse with other visually minded folk. Hope you enjoy your broadening connections 🙂

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    1. It is fascinating to find all these other good people and interesting pictures and writing. May you continue enjoying your pictures and giving enjoyment to others

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  2. I have met so many quality and delightful people since I started my blog. In many ways I feel closer with them than most people in actual life I know. I have often wished I could meet on the back porch with a dozen or so so chatting the hours away.

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    1. yes – that is part of the unexpected – I do not know if it would work out on the back porch (not having one I have to say walking round the Meadows) – but I like to think so

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  3. Very thought provoking post, Elspeth. Cyberspace is where we get to reflect, more so, sadly, than in our hectic everyday lives. Our companions in our reflections are everyone else here: everyone has a perspective, each one unique. When times have been difficult a great wall of support has been there: a very real benefit, though I do not know these people in real life. In truth, I would sorely miss this ring of fellowship if I ever lost it 🙂

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    1. I am wondering now if what I can’t describe as the connection is simply a mutual stimulation so that each grows a bit? This is happening in the virtual world as well as the real one, but of course doesn’t always happen, nor is it always mutual, it just seems likely enough. I too would sorely miss this now I have started on it.

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  4. Virtual friends … sometimes referred to as ‘online buddies’, are just as real — it’s just that we haven’t met them physically yet. Many of my online buddies feel closer to me than ‘real life’ acquaintances. We exchange thoughts and ideas without being affected by looks, voice ..anything. That’s the way I communicated with he who came to be my husband, for several years before we met.

    Every now and then I start to follow a new-to-me blogger, but it’s rare nowadays. When I’ve signed up to follow one, it feels like a commitment and I can’t turn this into a full-time job.

    I’ve been thinking about this very subject these last few days and was meaning to write about it … The reason being that I see people in Facebook saying things like: «I’m going to clean up my friends list» (?!) One gets the impression that they treat these ‘online buddies’ like lesser human beings.

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  5. I think that facebook friends can be a different breed entirely; some folk have thousands of ‘friends’- basically anyone they’ve ever met, and a few more besides.

    The virtual friendships are unexpected in their depth- I worry about and for people, I cheer their positivity, I laugh with them, I want to hold their hands when the going gets tough. Although I had been reading blogs before I started my own, I was still taken aback. I enjoy the connections, and really think that’s why I blog at all. At the beginning I just wanted to see what it was like, to try writing a bit, and had no expectations of the blog lasting longer than a week or two!

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    1. I am still taken aback – and wondering how it is I feel so involved. Like – I’m wondering when does Spurs fan do his torch carrying? Maybe it is because bloggers post real parts of their lives, though nothing is an explanation. Don’t need one, it has all been an extra plus to life

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