Virtual Friendships September 11, 2010Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Balance, People.
Growing up, we exchanged confidences with friends, trusting them to guard our secrets. Our best friends knew as much about us as we knew about ourselves.
The rest of our classmates were just that ~ classmates. Not friends, classmates.
When we started working, we befriended a few co-workers, promoting them from the rank of casual acquaintance or co-worker to friend. These friends received the promotion the old fashioned way ~ they earned it through mutual trust and admiration.
Other co-workers remained just that ~ co-workers. Not friends, co-workers.
Boy, how times have changed. These days, people refer to people they’ve barely met, or perhaps never met (except in cyberspace) as friends. Due to the prevalence of avatar images, one virtual friend may not even know what another virtual friend looks like.
Social Networking Sites have leveled the playing field. Facebook, for example, doesn’t provide separate hierarchies or categories for Best Friends, Close Friends, Classmates, Fellow Alumni, Co-Workers, Casual Acquaintances, Strangers with Shared Interests, etc. You’re either friends, or nothing.
And nobody wants to be nothing!
It’s a good thing that FB doesn’t require us to buy birthday gifts for all the virtual friends we’ve accumulated. We would have to get a second job to pay for them . . . leaving us less time to hang about on FB accumulating new virtual friends.
And it’s not just in cyber-space that the term friend is loosely tossed about and applied to virtual strangers. When Rachel Ray travels, for example, she makes friends every place she visits:
* “Hey, I had a delicious lunch, and I made some new friends.”
* “I had a blast at the wine tasting, and I made some new friends.”
* I’ve had a great time in Cape Cod, and I made some new friends.”
Not my kind of friends she didn’t: A waitress, bus driver, or store owner who gives me a good tip on sites to see when I’m traveling is a kind stranger, or a passing acquaintance, not a new friend.
These days, virtual friendships on social networking sites like Facebook require little more than a shared interest in reading, writing, politics, music, reality TV, sewing, cooking, philosophy, virtual farming, or Chia pets.
In contrast, friendships in “real life” require much more than a passing acquaintance or shared interest in an esoteric subject matter. Friendship, in my book, requires mutual confidence, affection, trust, admiration, support, acceptance, intimacy, respect, encouragement, continuity, and other reciprocities like those I share with my BFF . . . Best Friend Forever.
But more about my BFF later . . .
Can a virtual friendship blossom into something more?
I want to virtually hear them laugh out loud.
Related post: Reach Out & Touch Someone
Related article: Friending and Unfriending ~ A New Social Order?