Last April, I wrote a post called Bloggers Can Be Friends Too. It was all about how the concept of friendship had taken on a new meaning since I became a part of the social media community. I was clear to point out that I didn’t consider every person I connected with a friend, but that it takes more time and effort, and one-on-one conversation. Nine months later, I still believe that bloggers can be friends, too. In fact, over that span of time, I’ve been fortunate to meet a number of bloggers in person. But, time and experience have also taught me some things about online friendship that I want to share.
Fortunately, it’s not scary to “meet” people online like it was when we were growing up, but that doesn’t mean that we should leave our guard down completely. Although someone may actually be the 20-something PR professional who they claim to be, the Internet allows us to filter out the parts of our personality that we want people to see. In other words, someone who seems totally nice and genuine through Twitter and IM, may not actually be that way. So, before you go promising to be best friends forever, try hearing their voice on the phone, or one better, video chatting on Skype. The best thing you can do is meet them in person, when it’s feasible. There is a certain kind of connection that can only be formed face-to-face.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total cynic. In fact, I love connecting with new people, and I am so grateful to social media for putting me in touch with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. I certainly acknowledge that, just like our offline friends, our online friends each fall into certain roles, and we don’t need everyone we connect with to become a best friend for life. In fact, it’s kind of freeing to be able to talk to people who don’t know your whole life story.
I’m not trying to discourage anyone from making friends online, I’m just giving a word of warning. Remember that friendships are a kind of relationship, and when it comes down to it, you get what you give. Sometimes, you’re going to get less than you give, and sometimes you’re going to get more, that’s just part of life. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you’re probably wondering what I did with Sam. Usually I write about all of the wonderful things about friendship and how amazing my friends are. Don’t worry, I’m still here. There are still many wonderful things about friendship, and I do have amazing friends, and I’m still grateful for every single one of them.
What do you think? Can bloggers be friends too? What have you encountered when trying to create friendships through online connections?