So my friend Paisano asks if virtual friends are as good as real friends. The key question though, is there a difference? One gets from his Utter that the virtual friends would be online only friends.
My experience has been that I’ve had good personal and in person relationships forming that started out as online only ones. Our friend Karen was once just the person behind the pictures of *Karen on Flickr. Now we’ve visited with her a couple of times and had a blast. Of course it’s led the obligatory exchanging of seasonal cards and such too. Something that our physical world friends don’t place a lot of value on.
Online friendship has also led to in person meetings at two well attended blogger meetups and one tweetup here in St. Louis. Those events are helping to cement relationships that were once only virtual. Enough of going that direction, let’s talk about my experience with the physical world friends. You’d think getting the opportunity to spend time in person would result in a significant amount of time being spent together.
The truth? Not anymore than I spend with my virtual friends, and sadly, often not anymore fulfilling. Why do I think that is? Because my real world friends ‘know me’, or think they do. But because they work with me, and shared a lunch or three, there is the tendency to categorize on lunch time conversation. The opportunity for sharing is more focused around actual get togethers, and sadly unfed the rest of the time. The crux is that those I communicate with online are getting a lion’s share of exposure to me through Twitter, Utterz, Seesmic, my blogs, and my other socnet presences. The same probably holds true for you if your friends are spending some time online.
Just one example. I’ve started studying Japanese. I’ve only been going on about it for quite a few days, even showing off the books, sharing links, and asking for advice, yet a friend that supposedly reads my blog, and has seen me every day has some how missed that I’m trying to learn Japanese, and greeted the concept with more of an ah, that’s nice of one that ‘knows’ me. Compare that to the response online. No comparison honestly.