Forging internet friendships is similar to internet dating. There’s the honeymoon phase, where everyone is mindful of each other’s beliefs, respectful of differing opinions, and generally live by the notion that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. There is often a “first meet” where everyone attending obsesses and “Face-stalks” the others’ Facebook profiles hoping not to look too lost when they enter the meeting place. Then after the initial “meet”, what if you don’t want to see them again for whatever reason? It can often be more difficult than breaking up with someone. Trust me. I’ve been there before and have a quirky Facebook friend complete with three meal pics per day and video workout demonstrations to prove it.
For the most part, I’ve been lucky in the virtual friendship department. When I use the phrase “virtual friends”, the only thing “virtual” about them is the fact that the friendships were built in cyber space. Not sitting face to face often means you can be more open and honest. Maybe it takes away the fear of judgment. After all, if you can’t see the person, who cares if they’re judging you or not? Maybe it’s because you always have the option of removing yourself from their life with a click of the mouse. Or the fact that you’ve come together with something in common, like the birth or loss of a child. Either way, these friendships can often be more fulfilling and meaningful than real life friendships. Once the initial “first meet” nerves are out of the way, the door is opened to many wonderful life-long connections. As a group, there will be ups and downs, losses and gains, but at the end of the day, each and every person has a support network behind them whenever they need. That is priceless, and I am forever grateful.