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Real-Life Friends Vs Internet Friends: 4 FAQs

June 4, 2014|Posted in: Uncategorized

We’ve all heard the punchline at some point in our lives how “internet friends” aren’t the same as “real friends,” and to some point I think we can all agree. The medium of friendship is an important aspect of that friendship, so it’s certainly part of the consideration. But can online friends be “real” friends? There’s been some amount of debate for a long time about this very topic, and I’m here to answer some questions about online friends based on personal experience.

1. How can you even be sure who you’re talking to on the internet?

To that I say, how can you be sure who you’re talking to in real-life interactions? Just because I have a friend who claims that she worked as a tiger-tamer in Vegas, does it mean that’s true? Much like in real life, the internet is full of liars and chronic exaggerators. Of course telling stories is just a part of friendship, so you have to take the crazy ones with a grain of salt.

2. Isn’t every teenage girl you meet secretly a forty-year-old, anti-social man?

No, much like how that isn’t the case in real life. If you’ve ever had a sister, or been a teenage girl yourself, it becomes pretty clear when someone’s lying about their age and identified gender. To be frank, I’ve worked as a writing mentor for a teenaged girl on the internet, and I believe she was just that.

3. What’s the point of talking to people on the internet anyway? It’s not like it’s a real friendship.

This is a common misconception, I think. Just because you don’t see someone face to face doesn’t make them any less real. You still have to make an effort to communicate with them, you have to make an effort to be online at the same time, and you have to be sensitive to their needs and wants just like you do in real life. There are, of course, some differences, as I’ve mentioned before, but that’s a difference in mediums, not in expectations.

4. What can you gain from an online friendship when you don’t even know what the person looks like?

If physical appearance is the main thing you gain from a face-to-face interaction then perhaps you would benefit from a reevaluation of your motives. One definitive benefit to interacting online is your ability to interact with people from a different environment than you. Instead of making friends only at your job, local bar, school, or mutual friends, you can meet people halfway around the world with your similar interests. It can give you a whole new perspective on yourself to meet someone entirely different with similar ideas.

All told, it’s probably for the best if you have a mixture of friends in your life. Having friends you see at work, or at school, as well as friends you know online, can help you stay connected with different people in all aspects of your life.