Are Virtual Friends as good as Real Friends?

Paisano‘s Mobile post sent by tojosan using Utterz. Replies. mp3

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.

I’m done ranting and I’m sure many of you have had experiences that go both ways. Do you have online friends that are as good as your ‘real’ ones?

4 Responses to “Are Virtual Friends as good as Real Friends?”

  1. 1 shashib January 29, 2008 at 10:28 pm


    For some reason the world had gone crazy. people are actually stepping up to help one another. I have been meeting a lot of my online friends in the DC area in meetups and its been awesome experience. I think as long as the online friend has “bared all” – u know where they work, family , kids and their friends I think you are more comfortable.

    i think I am beginnig to like other people’s rants too 🙂 But I agree its a great experience to meet online friends offline. Hacing food at the meetups is good, Having liquid refreshments even better

  2. 2 Stephen January 31, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    Someone asked me one time if I would be their ‘internet friend’. I didn’t know how to respond to that; really, you’re either my friend or you’re not, and it doesn’t matter if we can ever have a real lunch together. Aside from my wife, the majority of my friends are online-only, but I would call these genuine friendships–if I were in town and stopped by for dinner, I’d be more than welcome. This Internet is a wonderful thing. 🙂

  3. 3 tojosan January 31, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Thanks folks for the wonderful comments.

    Stephen, you nailed how I feel. And honestly, my online friends have been more generous, kind, and down right friendly than my offline ones understand.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  4. 4 J. February 8, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    I’ve been talking to someone I met on a social networking site for a little over two years now, I’d judt turned 18 at the time, I’ll say I didnt know any better…

    she has a very popular blog and we share few mutual online friends – Theres something about it though as the popularity of her blog grew the more people started to wonder if her online identity (or photos) on this website was fake – turns out they were and she confessed eventually. People still like her and continued to support her including myself –

    but I wonder if thats normal? I would love to consider thie person a close friend and after that it seemed ok…but I feel like its not normal or ok to have online friendships esp after something kind of weird like that happening.

    Now she decided to take a break from everything because one of her real friends joined the site and…apparently something happened so my question is-

    Can you introduce you real friends to your online friends?

    Is it normal to feel hurt over something an online friend does?

    And is….am I lame?

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