Online friends are an interesting thing. How can two people who have never met in real life and may never meet form a strong friendship that lasts for years? It kind of sounds strange in a way. But I guess it’s not anything new. Pen pals have been around longer than the internet. Maybe the internet just makes it easier?
Recently one of my online friends from Latvia sent me a video to watch that I really enjoyed. In that video, this guy solves a funny 20-year-old internet mystery with some help from a personal blog. The way the Japanese blog ended up helping got me thinking about online relationships.
My Online Friends
I’ve known and been friends with many people online that I have never seen in person. Most of them were from online gaming. Some of those relationships lasted a short time while our paths crossed. Some of them I’ve continued to talk to for 19 years. I didn’t realize that until I was writing this but that’s really amazing. We have shared life events like getting married, kids being born, loved ones dying, all kinds of things. Like you would with any friend.
I have also had the fortune of talking to people from all over the world. I remember one time many years ago in Dark Age of Camelot I was in a group of 8 people and I was the only person from my country. The others were from Russia, Japan, and Chile to name a few.
The internet can be an amazing tool to bring people together.
Online friend can be helpful
When I was in college a guy I met in an online game who worked for Microsoft helped me out on several occasions.
I have had help with other projects and even translation help haha. I even helped someone learn English. They used to ask me about words all the time and I enjoyed helping them!
Just like one of my friends who lives in the same town as me, my online friends have been helpful where they could! (If one of you is reading this then once again thank you!)
When an online friend vanishes
But like anything else in life, it is not always happy. I’ve had some online friends vanish from the internet. I guess when you don’t know someone in real life you can’t go check on them. Most of the time it’s a mystery and I’ll probably never know what happened.
I remember one guy who vanished for about a year. Then he came back one day and told us he was battling a brain tumor. Shortly after that, we lost contact with him once again. I can only assume the worst. 🙁
I believe online friendships can be just like an offline friendship
I know some people don’t believe this. But I think maybe those people have not experienced a good online friendship.
Sure it can be harder because you have to make an effort. But any good friendship should be that way. If the only reason you’re friends is because you work together or have a class together then how is that any worse than having an online friend in a game?
Just like a good offline friend will make an effort to stay in touch the same rules apply online. The more I think about it the fewer differences I see. The only real difference is physical proximity. Everything else is the same. So to the people who don’t believe in online friendships, I’d say they should try it.
In fact, they may already have online friends if they count people they only text or Facebook and never meet up with.
I would not feel right finishing this post without talking about the dangers. There are sick evil people in this world and these people use the internet too. My rule of thumb is to not give personal details out online. A few of my online friends know more about me but that comes after hanging out and talking with them online for many years. I’ve also met a few of them offline but I always have other friends with me. Basically what I am saying is don’t trust someone you just met. Just like in real life.
What a time to be alive
I was born at a fun time in history. I remember life before the internet in my early childhood. And I got to see the internet grow into what it is today. I’ve had a chance to talk to and become friends with people all over the world. What a fun time to be alive.
I have been able to meet some of them. But I suspect most I’ll never get to see. Still, I am thankful I live in a time in history where we can talk to people over the internet.
I admit if given the choice I’d like the option to hang out in person. But as far as I’m concerned a friend is a friend no matter where they live and how you communicate with them.