Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Do Your Real Life Friends Believe in Your Online Friends?

 
Saturday night, at a dinner party, I mentioned someone I know online and everyone at the table looked at me as if I were crazy. This has happened many times over the years. People think I am imagining all of you.
This time however I was lucky enough to have a couple with me that had met an online friend (Brian Busby) in Canada this summer. So they were able to confirm that I was not crazy and these people actually existed. And these online friends were very nice normal people and not specters or weirdos.
Today another oddity. A woman with a popular blog died and many people wrote tributes to her. Most of them had never met her in person. And yet, they were extremely sad about her loss and wrote poignant memorials. She had extended her circle of friends enormously through her blog.
I suppose there were people in the past who only knew each other through letters as in that Charing Cross story, but on the whole, this is a new phenomenon. 

Do your friends react with horror or disbelief if you mention having online friends. I am not talking about writing a blog so much as having friends you met online. Do you think we are all odd to communicate this way? Now that I have met a few dozen of the people I knew first online, I have to say none of them are weird as much as my real life friends enjoy thinking it.


26 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I met Lana online and when I told some of my friends about it they certainly looked at me like I was insane. But it's the way things are moving for many. I find it interesting that many do not know what it's like.

Elaine Ash said...

Hi Patti! It's easy to forget that "people like us" who are technologically proficient, online, WiFi'd and carry digital libraries around with us, are a small vanguard of people on the planet. The older your group is, the smaller the vanguard. My younger friends not only meet online, they also travel internationally to meet them.

I met my first group of people with a shared interest in movies back in 1995, and met 12 of them at a rented house in Maine the next year. Two gals came from as far away as Japan. Some of my real-life friends thought for sure I was going to get raped and killed. In fact, 12 nice gals from all over met, shared meals, watched movies, played pop quizzes and games and went for long walks. The trip was wonderful.

People without online friends don't know what they're missing.
Elaine

George said...

As many of us age and travel becomes more difficult, online friendships will become the norm. Your blog and a dozen others always brighten my day!

pattinase (abbott) said...

One of the things that help us form quick friendships is we come together over shared interests. My real life friends never read crime fiction, for instance. It is a place to share that.
And yours is my first stop every day, George because I know you will be there.
They are missing something I think. I have met people from all over the world through this blog. If I go some place, I usually know someone there now and I track them down. Next month, I will meet Katherine Tomlinson and hopefully Ron Scheer in California. Last time there I met Barrie Summy and Margot Kinberg.

Chris said...

In a sad testimony re: my relationship to my home town, I definitely spent more time in the company of people I met online, then had opportunity to meet on my travels, than I did with anyone I know locally.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I wonder if we are all somewhat shy. Or perhaps we like to keep people at arm's length. Something like that.

seana graham said...

When I first started being in the blogging world, I remember one of my friends said, oh, I get it, they're like your characters! Which was interesting, but wrong.

It does seem to be a kind of separate hidden world, though. I think we now live our lives in both places, and they don't overlap that much. However, I've met Peter Rozovsky and will be meeting a young friend who I discovered through my Finnegans Wake blog right after Christmas. I actually connected him with my friend's son because they were both recent transplants to Austin. Because of the blogosphere, I have become a kind of friendship yenta!

I think there is an aspect to the blogworld where you can respond at any time of day or night and never feel like you are intruding.

Anonymous said...

Yes, my real life friends know my blog friends are real. I've read a lot of the people I "met" through Dave Barry's blog in person and 95% of it was good. Most of our friends are friends we met through the mystery group starting in the late 1970's and some of them overlap with online blogs.

But as a non-Facvebook person I can understand it, as I look askance at the hundreds of "friends" my brother and sister supposedly have through that group.

I can vouch that you and Phil are indeed "real" if that will reassure anyone.

;)


Jeff M.

Randy Johnson said...

I actually have more interaction these days with my online friends, Because of my health, I don't get out much. Because of the health of some real friends, they don't get out much either. Because of a recent death in the family, a lot of us came together and I was shocked at one friend. I knew he was on a waiting list for a kidney transplant, but just didn't realize the extent of his failing health. Phone conversations cover a lot of things.

Most folks I know have lots of friends through Facebook and don't find it unusual.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think that day or night is especially great for insomniacs. Before it was a book-isn't this better? HA!

And I guess I am a member of that group several times removed Jeff since so many on here belonged to it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I travel in more prehistoric circles, Randy. Some of these people do not even use primitive cell phones.

F.T. Bradley said...

Yeah, I get that blank look when I mention online friends. But it's the best place to meet like-minded people for me, so that's alright. It's great to meet people in person, though...

Deb said...

I'm not on Facebook, but my husband, kids, and a good numbers of friends are, so none of them find it odd that I refer to an "on-line friend."

Joe Barone said...

I've never mentioned my on-line friends to my friends around the dinner table. Just never had the chance, I guess. But you are right. I do feel as if I know my on-line friends in a special way because, most often, we share an interest. The on-line community is important to me.

Todd Mason said...

Well...some (or just one) of your online correspondents might just frighten your dinner guests' (hobby)horses. But who was the late blogger you mention?

Email discussion lists, blogs, FB and the like, and twitter have taken up a lot of the space that fanzines, APAs or amateur press associations (Jeff's DAPA-EM, if I'm not misremembering), and poctsards (as in quippy postcards) and mail art previously occupied...

Rob Kitchin said...

I must of a demographic (in academia and using email since 1989) where the online/offline distinction in friends would not be seen as a major issue. I suspect that amongst the Facebook generation that have all kinds of gradations of friends.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Maxine Clark. (Petrona)

Ron Scheer said...

Most people who know me offline find nearly everything that interests me odd. That's been true all my life. Yet the online people I've met have found me utterly ordinary if not more so. Maybe my social skills are just better developed online.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sadly that is probably true of most of us. I think our friends in life are people we work with, who live on our street. Online we find people who specifically share our interests in books, writing, movies.
And for me, most of my real life friends are associated with a university, are very political. Sometimes we all need a rest from that.

Anonymous said...

As indicated, the core DAPA-EM crowd (as Todd mentioned) has remained very close for 30+ years, including George Kelley and Bill Crider and (later on) Rick Robinson.

Jeff M.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

My online friends outnumber my real life friends by 100 to 1. I feel as if I know all my virtual friends whom I met only through our blogs. Interestingly, 99 per cent of my blog friends are foreigners and I value their (and your) online friendship.

pattinase (abbott) said...

And me as well, Prashant. Some day I may track you down in India.

Brian Busby said...

Belated thanks for the compliments, Patti. I think of myself as perfectly normal.

I don't think dinner companions consider the idea of online friends that odd. In the old days, most would've had exchanged letters with others met through research. For ten years now, I've corresponded with an American scholar whom I met (only on paper) when writing my biography of John Glassco.

One of the better things about the web is that it's now easier than ever to communicate with others who have similar, often esoteric interests. Take the very bad poet James MacRae. The man lived and died a three-minute walk from my house, but I've yet to find anyone in this little town who cares. Online, their number is legion... okay, maybe six or so.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Ours do. At least people I correspond with because I met them online in some fashion. I am not taking about emailing but blogs or social networking. They truly think I am bonkers.

Jerry House said...

My on-line friends and my real-life friends are -- one and all -- very important to me. None of you are weird. Really. Honest. I mean it.

Since we've never met in person, Patti, let me assure that I (also) am not weird. Really. Honest. I mean it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Only weird in that we still love books.