What makes a true friendship anymore? Is it whether or not the person knows your birthday, or how many hours you spend talking on the phone or hanging out in person? With all the ways we can communicate now — Skype, ICQ, AIM, Gchat, Facebook Messenger, Grindr, etc. — and with all the people on our buddy lists, who are we really friends with? Is it possible to have friends who are purely for the Internet and others you interact with in real life? What’s the difference?
Keeping You Company
Online Friends: Online friends are people you don’t really really know but you met them once at a conference, on a social networking site, on Twitter, or maybe you added them to your Facebook because they’re friends with someone you know. Plus they’re hot, and you do enjoy collecting Facebook friends based on their hotness. An online friend is someone you know is available every time you see that little green dot next to their name, so you write them and say hello. But sometimes it’s possible to have an online best friend who you’ve never met before in real life, but who keeps you company when you’re writing a long paper or bored at work. You talk to each other at least every other day. You even have inside jokes and think about going out to visit them wherever they live, you know, to take things to the next step.
Real Life Friends: Real life friends keep you company when they can, when they’re not busy with something else or watching a favorite television show. An online friend is available whenever they have that promiscuous little green dot beside their name, but your real life friends have things to do and you don’t always know what they’re doing or when they’re busy. You can make plans with your real life friends for tea or brunch, and you can compliment them on their new haircut. Even if you talk to your real life friend online, you KNOW they’re a real friend when they are ‘invisible’ and they will still talk to you.
Gossip And Life Problems
Online Friends: Online friends know all about your relationship drama and boy/girl crushes, because you’ve been asking them for advice for months. Hey there, Google Talk friend, Should I try to kiss him tonight? OMG what do you think? You feel comfortable talking to your online friends about all of your life issues because as far as they know your name is really “Katie Smith,” even though it’s not, and you could be making up all of your social problems. Plus, you’ve already bugged your real life friends about this stuff to death. Now you have a whole new outlet!
Real Life Friends: Your real life friends know you the best and are not afraid to tell you about yourself. Sure, your online friends can offer an opinion, even a decisive one, but there is nobody like a real life friend to tell you when you need to get it together. A real life friend says things like, Don’t you already have a girlfriend? Should you really be talking to this other girl, no matter how hot she is? A real life friend will make you feel good even when you’re feeling depressed about the job market or going through a difficult period in your life. An online friend can console you, but just doesn’t have the same context.
Online Friends: Depending on the context in which you met said online friend, there might still be some unresolved sexual tension between you two that has to be dealt with. Maybe you’ve made some sexual innuendos to each other. But even if you haven’t had those kind of late night chats, if you ever do take your friendship into real life you do run the risk of having unreleased sexual tension. You feel like you should just have sex already, you know, just to get it over with. After all, you’re not really strangers so it’s not really a hook up — you’ve been friends online for like six months now. Consider it a physical Hello!
Real Life Friends: Do we really want to have sex with our real life friends? Maybe the friendship started romantically but ended up becoming sexual, or maybe our friendships started sexual and got platonic somewhere along the way. Not that there’s never sexual energy between real life friends, but it seems like sexual energy between online friends you’ve never met before is implied. Or maybe I’m just a slut.
Online Friends: With online friends you can do things like play Words With Friends or watch your favorite television show together, chatting about everything that annoys you about the show. That’s the fun part — I almost never watch TV alone now. If I’m watching a big show that everyone is talking about, like Scandal, RuPaul’s Drag Race or Homeland, I’m definitely chatting to my online friends while it’s on. Not that I don’t do that with my real life friends, too. Plus, with online friends you always have a new place to visit — sexual tension or not.
Real Life Friends: With real life friends, you can go out to galleries or to your favorite restaurant and do things together you both enjoy. It’s not fair to say that having online friends or real life friends is better than the other, but there’s something irreplaceable about real, human contact.