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December 06, 2023 - @543.41 (what is this?)
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Author Topic: The discussion about online friends being or not being 'real friends'  (Read 1071 times)
HayleyMulch
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« on: December 27, 2022 @480.67 »

Some 'verified' user on bird app once again shared their quote-unquote unpopular opinion last night stating that online friendships only last about 4 months, and not a day longer. It once again opened the floodgates on online friends and if they are as meangingful or less meaningful than 'real friends'.

I guess what you'd need to begin with here is what do people mean when they state a 'real friend'? In this instance, I assume it always means a person you can meet up with and talk to in real life. So let's go with that.

It's fair to say that having been online since 2005, I've had many people come an go in my life, even a few exes. But I do indeed have friends going on 10+ years that I met online. And I met my partner over 4+ years ago on bird app too. Of course, we've bridged the gap more and more and want to be in a position where we are with each other IRL always. Many of my longest online friends I have met IRL too, but we live in different counties so online communication is our only way really. It is a magical feeling getting to meet online friends in real life, and then you just gel so well cos you've communicated so intently through emails, texts and maybe calls/video calls. I do believe that there is added value in body language that you can physically see too. Yet that may lend itself into another dicussion about tone indicators. Maybe another topic for another time!

I believe because online communication means having to type out dicussions and replies, or that you're intently talking over call, means that you can easily develop a very deep and personal relationship with someone.

And when the rona happened, many IRL friends, had to become online friends for safety. I wonder do the people stating that online friends aren't 'real friends' realise that either.

TL:grin:R it boils my piss ultimately when people think online friends have no real worth or value. How do they quantify a 'real friend' then? I believe friendships are valuable no matter the form they take. Your thoughts?
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DiamondPetals
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« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2022 @571.89 »

What? They said that? God that's pathetic. I think it's bullshit that they think that online friends are not real friends. I do consider my online friends my REAL friends. To me sometimes it's just a matter of distance.
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2022 @692.99 »

Ooh, this is an interesting discussion. I'll start with my personal experience. I've got zero online friends, I think the most I had was a handful when I was a teenager and really into gaming. Gaming is a great way to build bonds, and I have a friend who has a fair share of online friends because he continues to play video games to this day, and they're all close. I do personally believe that IRL is in a category of its own though, not that a stranger you just met on the street is more valuable than an internet stranger, but that a week of spending time with that IRL stranger can be more valuable than that online one. There's so much missing from digital interaction. The internet's amazing, no doubt, but I feel the healthiest way to use it is as a catalyst to enhance your real life. Like how you found your partner on Twitter, that's awesome! I wouldn't think it's as awesome if you and your partner were together exclusively over Twitter.

I guess what I'm saying is online friends CAN be real friends, but whatever they are, friends and relationships require work. And a digital / long-distance one has a lot of potential problems, not insurmountable, but they're there. I think an important aspect is also: try to treat as many as you can as a potential friend, and don't inherently shun people you haven't seen in a while, life is complicated. Try to be kind and welcoming. Greet the world with open arms.
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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2022 @847.69 »

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online friendships only last about 4 months
Thats a really specific number and I don't think it makes any sense at all :tongue:

Iv had a lot of online friends over the years; some of them were more casual acquaintances; some were long distance relationships; some were just close friendships - some I still talk to over 10 years later, some Iv lost contact with - many of them Iv met IRL after a few years - sometimes its gone great and we've gotten along even better in person - other times its a bit more awkward and you realise you don't share so much in common IRL - but its never been bad!

Iv also lived in a lot of places and had a lot of short term IRL friends that Iv met because of work, or flatmates etc - they were great friends and they had a big impact on me, but we didn't keep in contact because our friendship was tied to that physical place we shared. On top of all that, the last love of my life was someone who I met briefly IRL first, but then we got to know each other online?? So it can be very mixed up :defrag:

What Id say is that they are both totally valid forms of friendship, but they are also VERY different. I think its important to have both. You need IRL friends to have that physical feeling of being in a place and experiencing time with another person, its a shared risk and a reality check. Id also say, in the 21st century; you need online friends to give you a broader cultural reach, to connect with ideas and places that are bigger than your physical world - the world is so interconnected now, we need that kind of conversation to be healthy citizens of the world :grin:
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2022 @908.52 »

growing up on the internet means i've had this conversation countless times. IRL family members would tell me when i was younger that these "internet people" aren't my "real friends, because you don't know them." i'd argue that i knew them better than i knew people in my own house, because as Hayley mentioned, when all you have are forums or a basic instant messenger all you have is typing so maybe your conversations are a little more thought out.

getting older i started to look around at my IRL friendships and saw a lot of them were based on convenience, we went to the same school, or worked in the same place. "internet friends" tended to exist because of a mutual interest.
of course i do have IRL friends who i consider to be my family, but i have never been one to have a solid core group of friends, i have always had multiple groups/people who do not often overlap and i think this stemmed from having worldwide "internet friends" early on in life. each group/person knows a slightly different side of me.

all that being said, i met my best friend on neopets probably almost two decades ago now, and yes, we both still play - though not on our original accounts.
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« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2022 @495.56 »

I have so-called "online friends" I've known for 20 years. My closest friends are people I met online. "Four months" is arbitrary and obviously only their experience, which even then I have to question.

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HayleyMulch
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« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2022 @616.68 »

What? They said that? God that's pathetic. I think it's bullshit that they think that online friends are not real friends. I do consider my online friends my REAL friends. To me sometimes it's just a matter of distance.

Weirdly enough, I mistaken what they said and it was actually 3 months. Still very, very silly to claim to know exactly when friendships end. Very arrogant, imo. And I do consider online friends to be real friends too. Exactly as you said - just a matter of distance.

And I resonate with orcuslightningearth and Melooon so much. The space in how you communicate can be a huge factor. Be that an online setting or IRL setting. I work from home permanently since Covid, and it's been weird only having met up with my friends and co workers at a big event earlier this year. But the feeling was magic and amazing and I believe it strengthened all of our bonds. And I have definitely fallen out of contact a fair bit with friends in previous jobs I had too.

For me, yes, a long distance relationship need to eventually close the gap and end at some point. That's what me and my partner are working towards being in 2 different countries, but thankfully very close! (Me in Ireland and he in the UK). Physical closeness is very important to me and you can miss out on all that nuance online. But then maybe for other people, maybe they want to keep their relationshop as an LDR and it works for them.

That all said, online friendships are so valid. I have come across people that knew others solely online, but then only for one of them to pass away, not having the chance to meet in person. Shit like that absolutely sucks. But it will never lessen the bond that was shared between them.

I am so thrilled and grateful for all the amazing friends I've made over the internet throughout the years, as they've all definitely shaped me in some way and made me a better person.

Ultimately relationships - be it physical or online - are all valid. And I think people should just mind their own business! Not cool to be holier than thou! :happy:

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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2022 @900.89 »

I feel like the Verified User™ is just projecting their own experiences onto other people and acting like it's an universal experience, which I don't think is uncommon twitter behavior lol

As for me, with a few exceptions, I do tend to value IRL friendships more than online: not out of principle but purely because I'm more likely to build a bond with people I socialize with in the Real World. If I only took this into consideration, then maybe I'd be "alright i guess 4 months makes sense why not". But at least I have the self-awareness to realize that this is how my relationships work, and that this can be wildly different for others. Online bonds can definitely matter, especially when there's few like-minded people around your local area!
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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2023 @678.61 »

i think it’s just really close minded to say online friends can’t be real friends. i grew up online  :pc:  and i met my best friend i’ve known for years now on the internet. obviously there is something to be said for real life interactions and it’s best not to only interact online but it’s impossible to generalise all online friends into being randos you’ll forget about in a month; my family are all big internet users who have tons of good friends online.
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2023 @949.18 »

I agree with a lot of the points made here, although I would like to add something else to the discussion. There are different levels of online friends (in my opinion) I mean you can have someone that you email once a month, someone that you text every day, someone that you video call constantly. I feel like those follow a different trajectory than IRL friendships; like for me I have a friend who I would consider one of my closest and we only email each other every couple of days, I also have friends that I play games with almost every day and are mostly just my friends due to playing together in the past. IRL it seems that time spent usually equals to level of friendship (although there are massive caveats to that).
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2023 @779.81 »

I don't think I've ever been an online friend type of person- I don't have many online friends I'd consider to be close friends. I have IRL friends who have maintained years long friendships with people online and it always amazes me, not because I don't think of online friends as "real friends" but because the idea of maintaining a close friendship for so long online seems impossible for me to do.
There are only a couple people I speak to exclusively online, but they're all close friends who moved away, and even maintaining those friendships seems very difficult to me. :sad: I have a hard time balancing how much time I spend in "the real world" and online- it's easy to neglect one or the other. I always end up spending more energy maintaining IRL friendships but getting out of touch with online friends because of it- does anyone have advice or experience about balancing these types of relationships?
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« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2023 @794.28 »

Most of my friends are exclusively online and I haven't run into any problems with it that would be detrimental. The only thing so could see being a problem would be the lack of transparency about who the person is. To me, it's one thing to not share your personal life online, which is fine, but I feel that it's another thing to blatantly and/or pathologically lie about your life solely because of the anonymity of the internet. Friends have come and gone because of that.

I believe it all comes down to how *you* personally feel about it. It very well might be that people who say that online friendships/relationships just haven't had the best experiences. And that's just life. All about the experience.
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« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2023 @657.91 »

I think there's a general consensus us that grew up with the web (at least among the people I know) that online friendships/relationships are just as meaningful and valid as "IRL" ones. Hell, I too have had mostly online friendships, relationships, etc, and they've all lasted about as long as my offline ones. Hell, I met my fiance on some obscure, kind of defunct social media haha

What gets to me is knowing that I kind of have to lie to the general public about that though. I couldn't say "oh, we met online" to my parents - I had to fib and say we met at a concert (which, we actually intended to meet offline at one for the first time so not totally a stretch.... Covid put a wrench into that though). Not the biggest deal in the grand scheme of things but like with so many things I wish I could be totally honest about it.
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« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2023 @810.25 »

To believe that in-person friendships are worth less than those made online is unreasonable, to put it mildly. What constitutes a "real friendship" in reality and in our time? Is it the proximity to each other physically or how often you meet up? Not at all, at least not for me. Online interactions can help people find each other and develop friendships based on shared passions and experiences, so you won't ever end up with someone just because they happen to be next door. The possibilities are endless. For example, any online space where you can read previous writings by whoever you are speaking with is more valuable than an ordinary face-to-face interaction. I've neved seen long messages written by my friends, but I bet I'd instantly know them much better if I did. Sometimes, the "real you" is magically revealed when you take the time to consider and articulate your thoughts.
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« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2023 @897.47 »

As someone who met really close friends through an internet community, and has had them as friends for a good chunk of my life up to this point-- to the point where I feel comfortable sharing my personal feelings and emotions with them, to the point where I genuinely am wanting to try and meet them in person one of these days soon...

Yeah i think online friends are absolutely real friends.
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