Some of you will already know where this is going to go.
The short answer is yes – some of the people I have met on line are honestly real friends. Yes many are acquaintances and some are passing nods of acknowledgement. A smile, a wave, a virtual high five.
These are people I have met online. People who I ‘talk’ to more often than I talk to my mother or brother and people who I care about, whose opinion I value and who I cheer for, console, commiserate.
I’m part of a community – well several communities is probably more accurate and my life and work are richer and better for it.
My first ‘online’ friends came in 2006 – I joined an online community linked to one of the many diets I have tried over the years.
The thing is the diet didn’t stick but the friends did.
In 2007 I joined Twitter. I quickly find like minded folk and prattled on about anything from football to shoes via women’s rights.
A chat about sewing and knitting introduced me via someone else to a lady who I now count as one of my closest friends. Jewellery making, cosmetic making, many new restaurants , cocktails, exhibitions and plays later we chat a few times a week and make an effort to see each other regularly.
In the early 2010s I started to combine work and social – following a few leading lights in social media and making connections. Now I have a true community of trusted HR and L&D and General work folk who I talk to, exchange views and ideas with, rail against the bollox and laugh. Proper tear inducing belly laughs.
So yes these people are really real friends –
The one who I am trying every cocktail known to man with
The one who shares the most fantastic shoes with me
The one with the acerbic wit – who without I would never have done the moonwalk
The one who likes to MOOC it
The coffee fiends
The Google hangout giggles
All of them and many many more – many of you.
I’m better for the people I’ve met on line (well maybe not the p*rn bots) but the rest of you.
So when they ask if they are ‘real’ friends I just laugh and say they are some of the most genuine relationships I have.