10+ years ago, when I was a sysop (like a host with some "hall monitoring type" powers) in a CompuServe forum, there was always a discussion about if "on-line friendships" could possibly be as rich and long-lasting as friendships formed off-line.
I’m here to tell you the answer is yes.
So its interesting to me that we can fast forward to today and jump into the same conversation. DA raised the issue after spending the weekend with some old high school chums. Then, Gavin Heaton added his voice to the debate over at Marketing Profs Daily Fix.
Here’s my take. Relationships grow out of shared emotions, experiences and reaching out to one another. All of that is borne from investing time in one another. Listening to each other’s thoughts, responding to them, cheering on the days things go well and sending a supportive cyber hug when one of your favorite bloggers is having a tough time — all of that breeds intimacy. Connection. Caring. I’ve had conversations with bloggers who just welcomed their first baby into the world. I’ve also had conversations with bloggers who are overcoming alcoholism and other personal struggles. You can’t tell me that those connections are any less real because they’re made on-line.
One of the elements of blogging that I think is most significant (which I’ll write about in my 5 reasons why I blog post which is due any day) is the intimacy that can be achieved. I think that the medium is just symantics.
And it starts, just like it does in offline life, with a simple gesture. The other day I got an e-mail from Steve Manousos. We’ve never met. He’s never commented on my blog. A total stranger. Until the e-mail.
I read your blog every now and then, and when I do, I wonder why your photo is so dark. Here, I’ve lightened it up for you.
And with that, he attached a new jpg (see the lighter side of me to your right) What a cool and unexpected thing to do.
So, of course, I wrote him to say thanks and learned that he’s the owner of ImageSnap, an online store where you can personalize everything from basketball hoops to mousepads. I also learned that he used to be on the national desk at the LA Times and founded the company that made Painter, Dabbler and Poser.
Will we be lifelong friends? I don’t know. But the beginning of a connection has been made. And that’s how it starts. But first, I need to get him to read the blog more regularly!
So what’s your take? Are online friendships different? Does it matter if you ever meet in person? Tell me about a friend you’ve made via your online life. Or tell me you disagree.
But tell me something…after all friends don’t ignore each other!