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HI everybody! As you may know I recently read Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (check out my review if you want more info). It’s an amazing story about Eliza, a web comic creator who prefers her life spent online to the real world and whose friendships are purely online. She often gets criticism about this and has to defend her online friends as ‘real friendships’ constantly.
It got me thinking a lot about the concept of friendship and the differences and similarities between online friendships and ‘real-life’ friendships. Especially in relationship to something close to my life and heart, the book blogging community. Because, even though not everybody may think of this the same way, I do consider you my friends. If I comment regularly on your blog, you comment on mine or we chat now and then through social media – I consider us friends.
I wholeheartedly believe that online friendships are real friendships. To imply that they are not real is even a bit of an insult. Sure, you may only talk to each other on the internet, but that doesn’t make the friendship any less real or important. If anything, what brings you together is more likely a shared interest, passion or mindset as opposed to just the convenience of proximity or same age.
Personally, I feel like I’ve gained quite a few friends since I started book blogging and discovered the wonderful book blogging community. Do these friendships replace friendships I have made in ‘real-life’? (I don’t like calling them real-life friendships because it implies that online friendships are not real-life. So maybe I should continue calling them offline friendships instead.) No, they don’t! Offline friendships are of course still so important. Sometimes you just need a actual face-to-face chat over coffee (or tea in my case) with an offline friend. Have an offline friend to go to concerts with. Have someone know you so well they see when you are upset about something and unexpectedly show up at your door with ice cream. These kinds of things are tricky when you only know somebody online.
But on the other hand, those online friendships are also so important in other ways. Here are a few reasons why online friends rock:
Shared interests and passions
There is nothing I love more than being understood by someone who totally gets and even shares my interests and passions. As much as I may love offline friends, they don’t always understand or even care about my love for certain things. And that’s of course okay, but on the other hand it may seem silly, but those interests are a big part of me so you can’t underestimate the power of finding someone who you can share that with. I have met amazing people through blogging, whether we talk about books, music, tv or whatever. Thank you for fangirling with me, it means the world.
The beauty of making friends online is that it’s possible they live in different time zones, so you can pretty much have someone to talk to at every moment of the day. Can’t sleep? Surely there is someone online. What I love most about this is the fact that I can for example wake up to thoughtful comments or come home after an exhausting day to comments that cheer me right up. And I hope I can only do the same for all of you.
Something that I noticed is that there is absolutely no guilt-tripping online (well, except maybe the guilt we talk ourselves into) when we don’t interact for a bit. Everybody is so super understanding when you say “I’m sorry I haven’t been able to comment for a bit. Life got in the way”. Never have I ever had a fellow blogger get upset with me for not commenting for a few weeks. On the other hand, the love is just as big when I do come back. And the same goes the other way around. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t commented to me in a while, seeing your comments after a few weeks still makes me just as happy.
Different perspectives and insights
Since online friends can be come from all over the world and be different ages, nationalities or cultures, it is an amazing way of being exposed to different opinions and perspectives and I have personally learned so much from all of you. Things I wouldn’t have thought of before, issues that may not have crossed my mind, all of your posts and comments and ways of thinking have inspired me and broadened my mind on a daily basis.
Share whatever you want
I love how I can share my thoughts exactly the way I want online. If I don’t want to get personal, no problem! I can talk books or music or kdrama with you and feel perfect. But I love how when I have something more personal to share, some issues that perhaps I feel like I can’t share with offline friends, I can do so online. The support I have received from you all has given me the courage to continue offline and I can’t thank you enough.
So what it comes down to for me is this:
Whether offline or online, friendship is friendship. The two kinds of friendships complement each other wonderfully and are both valid and important.
So at the risk of sounding sappy, thank you all for being my online friends <3