Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cyber Buddies

I recently read an article about Gen Y feeling that their real friends are their online friends. It got me thinking about my own friendships and what it means to be a friend.

My friends in real life are great. I don't have many of them (I'm horrible at staying in touch with people) but I share laughs, secrets, and a history with them. They offer companionship and they know my family and other friends, so there's less that needs to be explained and more that can be shared.

But then I think about a couple of moments when I needed somebody and I turned to twitter. When our car was stolen, when I woke up one morning and had no idea where my guy was, when I was in a car accident, when I started thinking about nonmonogamy... All of these were moments when I received an incredible amount of support from people I consider friends but who I only know online. I've shared intimate details of my life with them, and they've helped me and comforted me when I needed it.

Another reason I often find myself turning to my online buddies is because I find we have more similar beliefs and outlooks when it comes to social justice, discrimination, calling out racism, misogyny, ableism, and so forth. Most of my friends in real life don't even understand what ableism is, despite my attempts at explaining in several ways. My friends have conversations and make jokes that make me uncomfortable. They use words that make me cringe. It's just a different dynamic.

So I'm not sure if I'd say that my real friends are my online friends, but I can see why some people might come to think that. Ultimately, I think it's great that we can make we of the internet to find like-minded people and forge relationships that fill the needs our other friendships do not fulfill.

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