Can bloggers develop real friendships?

I read a guest post on Harsh reality yesterday by Sue of It Goes On, asking whether or not it was possible to be friends with someone you’ve never met.

I responded:

Yes, but it’s damned exhausting because you don’t really know the person at all, and you have to do a lot of guess work. It’s all mental; all in your head. It’s fantasy because you craft all exchanges quite consciously. It’s a dream state, somehow.

She responded:

Is it fantasy because you give well thought out replies? Or is it just the convenience of not spilling silly things out of your mouth that you can’t take back when you are speaking to a ‘real’ person?

I responded:

For me, it would be the first. Some of my replies are spontaneous, like this one. I always just instantly respond to posts in OM’s blog, which is funny now that I think of it (I just blogged about this topic). After I posted this comment above I thought: there is a certain, basic criteria I have in my mind to create a real relationship – spontaneous dialogue, sight and or sound, and some sort of shared physical space. I guess in that respect, I am limiting my imagination for what can be achieved. I once fell in love through virtual words, after all. We knew each other physically, but it was through his written word that I actually came to love him…for his mind. 

It made me think back – I remember feeling that I was really inside his mind. Through online conversations and a variety of mediums, we turned our minds inside out for each other. We discussed the things that might have been otherwise distracted by physicality.

—–

I love old, romantic books such as Pride and Prejudice for the detailed art of letter writing. Living even a town away was quite a jaunt in those days, and writing letters was a necessity in communicating with loved ones. Granted, they often knew each other so it’s different, but my point is that they had to express so many emotions in written words alone, and those words encapsulated highly concentrated feeling that swirled through their minds, poured onto a page through a feather quill pen and were sealed with blood red wax.

I’ve been blogging for nearly two years, and it’s been a mind fuck in many ways. I started off preferring to blog alone, almost talking to myself in a sort of solidified, verbal fashion with the extra thrill that someone might actually read it. And then, people started reading. And then, I started reading them.

I’ve never taken any of these interactions very seriously. We connect through little comments on a random topic or story. Sometimes they’re in jest and sometimes in all seriousness, but either way, these comments and responding posts are built upon one another to form some sort of relationship – one that is constantly shifting with the ever-flow of new bloggers or one blogger topping another’s blatant honesty. I see written evolution occurring even within this tiny timespan of my own blogging experience.

If I could capture how meaningful these relationship can be in any one post, I would chose rarasour’s collage of past posts and blogging adventures. I realize that she finds meaning in the relationships she’s built with people online – people she’s never laid eyes on.

I think a lot about how online social media is affecting our collective psyche. And I think about how people who don’t blog sometimes say to me, “Yeah I don’t feel the need to validate myself by getting approval from other people I don’t even know.”

But then I think, is it all validation? Obviously not. I think bloggers are those people that have something a little extra to say to the world at large and want to say it instantly. They have something to share about their interpretation of life, and maybe they’re a bit fidgety banging around in their own minds with their strange stories and ideas; thoughts that perhaps go un-greeted in the physical realm. People who write online have a will and a love of sharing life through the contrived word. Through that, they certainly and most inevitably develop real and lasting bonds with each other.

I haven’t done it, but I have no doubt others have. I see it right there on their page.

The blogging world kind of fascinates me.

Ok, back to zoning out to fashiontv.

10 comments

  1. I would have to venture a “yes” to the question.

    • Funny enough, you are the one person I have had email conversations with, but you didn’t know it was me!! Heehee, that was pretty funny. I have thought a lot about narcissism feminism and all those fun ism words since reading your book.

  2. To your question: so much “Yes!” I’ve met some bloggers in person, and want to meet so many more. There are many I would love to stay a night with if I ever passed through their towns, just so I could put images to the lives they’ve opened up to me in words. This number is still a small percentage of the larger whole with whom I comment and laugh – not every friendship becomes a deep one – but these people are my friends. But then, I’m very trusting and I place a huge value on the significance of words… so I’m primo material for forming relationships online.

    • Hey Jennie, yeah it would be cool to take a tour de bloggers, especially since we’re all over the place! I do think it would be awesome to meet some of you (or even be a fly on the wall to see some of you blogging…to see people’s special writing spaces, or watching them laugh at their own jokes with a private giggle of satisfaction). 😉 Thanks for reading!

  3. I don’t know if you can create real friends. Internet is different. Take time and trust. I been writing and reading for 10 years. I started on old myspace. I had 3000 writers. A lot of them followed me to this site, writer cafe and facebook. I wish there were more activities for writers in Michigan. I was station in California for three years in 1992-1994. I was involved in three poetry readings a week. I did create friendship. On Writer’s cafe. I received a lot of positive help. I tell the young writers. Writing is a lifetime goal. We can learn from each other.

    • Thanks for your comment, and I appreciate the journey you’ve been through with writing! I am just starting out comparatively (only a few years of writing more in earnest), and I get confused by the emotions behind our interactions. Sometimes I’m intimidated, fearful, sometimes I feel a surge of love for fellow readers, but I still don’t know them. I agree though, having a writers group in the flesh could be very meaningful…perhaps I should reach out in my community. There is just a whole lot of insecurity going on “in here” about being genuinely able to express myself. I have to move past that, I need to, as I know writing is where I want to come undone from all the constraints I’ve made for myself. Thank you for your thoughts, John. I do admire and respect your lover’s heart.

  4. I really enjoyed this post. Working through the definition of ‘relationships’ and the carious forms they take inspired some thought of my own.

    I have been interacting with people online for many years and have never thought any less of the friendships that I have had with people I have really connected with online. In my mind my friendships and relationships have always been based on the emotional/mental connection I had had with a person rather than physically being in their space or basing it on their physical appearance.

    I find that having the opportunity to share on a deeper level with people through sharing of words and ideas is a fantastic way to get to know the moral compass of a person. Their values and principles and how they communicate. These are all really important parts of any relationship (romantic or not) and we often miss that when we are distracted with the physical presence of a person.

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

    ML
    x

  5. “I find that having the opportunity to share on a deeper level with people through sharing of words and ideas is a fantastic way to get to know the moral compass of a person. Their values and principles and how they communicate.” -That’s really true. I’m glad my words inspired some thinking for you….and that’s something I’m realizing more and more (as I blog): the value of reading other people’s thoughts to inspire our own sort of evolution of thought. This no doubt leads to some meaningful connections. Thanks for reading!

  6. It don’t analyze it anymore than I would analyze someone I met ‘in real life.’ Every relationship will be different and I let them all grow organically…or not. Plus I don’t believe that you ever really know anyone.

    • Isn’t that true. We are all changing constantly, and it’s good, especially with those people we take for granted in our lives, to realize that we still have much to learn about them. Thank you for reading!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: