I was hanging around in one of my usual online haunts this week and something got brought up that's a real hot button issue with me. It was the subject of online relationships vs. offline relationships. One of the things that kept getting repeated was that "online relationships aren't real relationships".
I beg to differ with that opinion. I think online friends are just as real. They remember your birthday. They're there to support you when something goes wrong in your life, and to celebrate the triumphs you share as well. You can hold long conversations with these friends, though most of them are in writing rather than in voice. And with the invention of Skype and Google Talk, where you can connect through a video “phone”, you can talk to them face to face. Or you can share phone numbers privately and call each other when you need to.
The world of social media is a harsh place to be in some of the time. But others it opens up new horizons for us. For me, who ends up staying home most of the time, my online friends keep me company. I'm able to talk to people in different countries, different time zones, and feel connected. Some would say I'm isolated because I don't spend a lot of time around “real” people. (I don't understand that one. Are the friends I've made online cyborgs or androids?) I spend time talking to my roommates, spend time with my dad, stepmom, and younger sister. But I really talk to – and trust – my online friends. My best friend I've never met in person but I know I can tell her anything. She won't tell me what I want to hear. She'll tell me what she thinks. She also feels comfortable enough with me to expect the same.
Yes, I can understand the need to go offline. I do it myself. I'll go watch a movie with Himself or read a book. Sometimes we'll listen to an audiobook as we get ready for bed. I talk to people outside my online world, though I hate using the phone. I prefer having people text me. But my dad and stepmom don't text, so I willingly take their phone calls.
In the end, I don't think it matters how we make our friends. I think what matters is that we have people we can talk to, that care about us. People who accept us for who we are. People who are willing to tell us the truth. People we can trust. Those are the real friends in the world, be they right in front of you physically or in front of a keyboard miles away.