Friends, On and Offline.

My number of friendsI’ve been giving this whole friendship thing a lot of thought lately. Too much thought, maybe. Then again, my world has pretty much been turned upside down during the last two months or so. It feels like my life has stood still for several years, and the last few months had stuff happen at an increasingly rapid pace. I feel like I’m in caught in a roller coaster and my life is currently doing corkscrews. Everything has gotten so twisted and turned I’m not sure what to feel about anything anymore.

Online friends. I’ve always had tons of them. During most points in my life, they were pretty much the only friends I felt I could actually trust with things. It could be that extra pressure from the online communities that I shared with them, but I doubt this. That sort of pressure exists out there in the “real world” as well. Is it because they’re online and can create an image and live up to it a lot easier than they can in real life? Fuck no, if you know someone online for longer than a month, you can see through that sort of thing. Just like in “real life”. Is it the lack of real interaction, making it easier to share certain things? I’m not sure, but I feel I disagree on this point as well. I share the same things with people I know online that I would with those I know offline. Instead of creating an image and living up to it online, I’m pretty much the same person in both fields. Creating an image and being something I’m not is not exactly a strong point for me. There may be a few difference because I get some extra time to edit out and change things to make sure I don’t slip up and say the wrong things online. Or worse yet, the right things in the wrong way. Still, it mostly boils down to the same thing.

If you meet an “online friend” in “real life”, do you stop seeing them as just “online friends”? Is there really a difference between the two?

A lot of people I know think of people you meet and maintain contact with online as a much lower level of friendship than the ones you meet in real life. I’m not convinced that’s right. It might be the case for some people, but it doesn’t work that way for me.

Maybe it’s because most of the people I’ve met in real life turn out to be of the more disappointing and unreliable variety. They’re usually too busy creating an image for themselves to appear busy, while at the same time doing everything out of boredom and float through life without much thought about anything that doesn’t directly relate to themselves. Not every friend I’ve had was like this. There is the rare variety of those who are actually busy. Meetings with them are rare, as they’re really too busy to meet. The times I do get to catch up with them, they’re always full of life and stories. The first group, usually don’t have much to talk about. Well, except what other people have been up to. That gets old, fast. Those talks usually get interrupted frequently by looks at cell phones and websites to check for new messages. You know, because socializing is much more important than… Wait… Oh, right. Actual socializing.

The whole dynamic of how I see people online has been given a massive overhaul since coming back from England. Not too strange, as I’ve never really met any of my online friends before. I met so many of them in such a short time, it was mindblowing. I’m certainly up for meeting more people who I’ve known online, and will do so when given a chance. A lot of them seem more like the reliable variety as well. Because they, well, you know, showed up. One of them came all the way to London to meet up with me for a day because I was in the area. Another showed me around her city while I was there, took me into her home. Thinking about it, I wouldn’t let most people in my home. Yet for some reason, I wouldn’t really mind a lot of the online people to come visit me at my place if they were in the area for some reason.

One of the things that’s been on my mind during the past few days is how much more this is going to change in the future. One of the people I trust most is going to help me when I’m finally ready to move. I’ll be living in the same area as her as well. Somehow the idea of living close to someone I’ve known online for well over a year still feels strange. Despite the fact that I’ve met up with her. Twice. Five days total.

By the time I’ll have settled in a bit, I do plan to meet more of the people I know in the country. A lot of them I’ve never met before.

I’m ending this post with a response to a status I had on FaceBook a few days ago. I put up this:

Remy van Ruiten is seeing real life friends in a different light now. There’s supposed to be quotation marks there, but I’m not sure which phrase is more worthy of it at the moment.

Not too long after posting it, Julie Summerell replied to my status saying:

We’re real life. We’re just far away.

I think that’s a very good way to put it.

2 thoughts on “Friends, On and Offline.

  1. I think it can be boiled down to the fact that people who meet online tend to make an effort to keep in contact and be online together for the most part, and folks who are in the vicinity might just fall into hanging together for convenience at times.

    I could be wrong.

    • I hadn’t even thought of that angle yet. That’s a very good point there.

      The thing with online friends is that you don’t need to look close to your area, but instead just end up with people closer to your line of thought, or at least your interests.

      I’ll give that some more thought before making any real statements. Although I guess I’ll find out in the future when internet people start invading real life more often.

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