Being a real friend in an online world

I’ve come to realise that as I grow older, my definition of the word ‘friend’ is changing. When I was younger, I was fortunate enough to have a tight bunch of school friends who were pretty much attached at the hip. It formed the foundation of what I considered “best friends” and I am so blessed that 23 years later, I am still in contact with two of them.

What they have taught me is that even though you move away to another country, and even though your title of wife is now extended to mother, you are still the same person and can still connect as a friend.

But this is in the real world…

With our lives so dictated by technology around us, I am yet to work out the rules of engagement for online friendships.

You see, I was horribly shaken two weeks ago when a “friend” I had gotten to know well, suddenly “disappeared” without as much of an explanation or a simple goodbye.

(wait…allow me to put this in to context.)

I met this person via Twitter. An amazing person with loads of energy, positive vibes and incredible stories, we chatted often and shared pictures of our children (read: dogs). In April this year, we even met for lunch and took the virtual friendship into the real world.

Two weeks ago, he suspended his Twitter account. No explanation, no goodbye. Just gone…

I am not the only one who has been wondering where he disappeared to so I don’t take it personally. It’s just that I don’t have any of his contact details. Twitter was our only means of contact so I am unable to get hold of him. (Gee, how the world has changed…)

I guess this means the friendship is over. *sob*

I must admit, I have tried to make sense of it all. I have analysed in my head what friendship means to people on social media platforms in today’s day and age. Is it really all that fickle? Do people take friendship that lightly and move on so easily?

I certainly don’t. But am I therefore investing too much in to it?

In a world were some people have over 1 000 “friends” on Facebook, my only conclusion is that in the virtual world, the word friendship and what it means to be a friend is different for everyone. It appears to be diluted. It’s not as stable or concrete. It’s used quite loosely.

Regardless of this and how society’s definition of friendship is changing, there’s one thing I know: I’ve met some incredible people via Twitter. We’ve shared some amazing moments and fun times. And yes, according to my definition, I consider them my friends…

11 thoughts on “Being a real friend in an online world

  1. Hi there

    We’ve never chatted or tweeted as the case would be, but I’m fully standing in your corner here.

    Personally, I feel that today’s social media is the perfect way to meet people in an anonymous kind of way. You’re able to let your hair down, and more often than not, able to express your feelings far better. In having this confidant, you subconsciously create a connection, a bond, and depending on the person you are, feelings can be created. As is the case with psychiatrists, many patients form a relationship with their shrinks, cause sometimes they feel they’re the only one who will listen.

    I, personally, take friendships very seriously. Perhaps because I lost most of my friends when I left high school, and when I was “forced” to break contact because my girlfriend at the time had a problem with them. Today, the people I meet are very close to my heart and I try to see them every so often to catch up. Actually recently met up over FB with an old friend from high school. Meeting her on Monday, looking forward to it. Ok, I’m straying off topic ;).

    In the case with your friend, I would say that it’s more than likely that he is involved and had to quickly delete his account for fear of his relationship in the “real world” breaking up.

    I’m a fairly good listener and happy to share my thoughts and opinions, especially then they are educated and intellectual topics and not ” I wonder what colour a smurf would turn if you had to choke it”.

    So thanks to @Sarahious for bringing my attention to this column, and if you would like to chat, you know where to find me. @Sandbrat__ (two underscores)



  2. Hey Bo
    The pic brought a lump to my throat, can you believe that 19 years have passed since that photo was taken? (although I’m hoping the brown tinge is photoshop and not age!)
    I agree with Mac, the bonds you form at school are somehow stronger than those you form at any other stage in your life.
    But I suppose it takes all kinds of friendships, and they each fulfill a purpose at that specific stage of your life. I’m sure your twitter friend will get in touch with you if the friendship was important, if not then he wasn’t worth it, don’t waste your time worrying too much over it.
    Miss u
    V xx


  3. Hi there. Interesting post. In my opinion, “cyber friendships” are not real. They may become ‘real’ if you meet a few times ‘off-line’, but in my experience. Online relationships are simply that – “online” not real at all. I met a ‘friend’ online. We met a few times for business and coffee and I thought the relationship was ‘real’ – but.. sadly …. I had to learn the hard lesson. DO NOT GET TOO ATTACHED to ‘cyber friends’. You will get hurt.


  4. Love the picture…

    Friends are friends, its that simple.

    If you meet someone in a grocery store, pub or online and you form a connection, then they’re a friend.

    The same rules and courtesy applies.

    If someone you met at gym a year ago, who you spoke to daily, suddenly cut all ties,that would upset you.

    So why should the rules be different for someone you tweet or DM on twitter.

    Things happen and people change their habit’s and associations, like deciding not to be on a social network, but that does not excuse a dear friend from breaking contact.

    That’s just rude and disrespectful. Real friends don’t treat each other like that.

    That’s my opinion :-).

    As always, great post, magazine quality…#hint


  5. I dont always see cyber friends and good friends but it is easy to ‘talk’ to them about anything and they certainly have saved my life many times with moments like ‘release the dove’. Those emails arrive at just the right moment to make my day. LOL !

    it’s my next blog 🙂


  6. Love the pic of the old gang Bo!
    Watch the movie Stand By Me… the summary Richard Dreyfuss gives regarding your friendships from school days holds true for me – whoever you meet, and however close you get to new friends, the people you shared your childhood with are always closest.
    I have a theory about your ex-twitter friend that suspended his account, I only know of 2 reasons why people ever suspend their accounts…


  7. Friendships which is online, can become very technical like for example the one you described in your blog post here. The other thing though regarding friendships like these, is that you will perhaps never know what happened to him/her. Perhaps something terrible happened to him and a family member have decided to suspend his account without telling the world what happened to him. There is still people out there who do not like the online world or which don’t know it. I know for sure that if something bad should happen to me one day, that my hubby will know let anyone know about me on my online profiles whatsoever. He does not like to share private things online. And my family members is not at all active on the online world, so they would not know how to log onto any of the sites I use.
    So this is what I always think, when something like this happens. Perhaps I’m just gullible, but that’s just how I am.
    Sorry to hear that you lost an online friend. Hope you get clarity one day.


  8. That has happened to me before as well and I did take it personally! But like you I consider the people I’ve met and shared more then the casual hello with on twitter, my friends.

    It’s a risk you take I suppose, but ultimately worth it!!


  9. Bo, you know my story 😦

    I am yet to make sense of it all, eats me up everyday!
    I still drive down her road… if it’s her road!

    Anyway, sorry it has happened to you, it’s terrible I know and something ppl like you and I may never come to understand, I try focus on he good and not on the pain felt from the loss.

    keep walking…


  10. Good friendships are hard to find, and many people arent willing to make the effort. It always seems to be more of a one-sided friendship. After school you realise what a true friend is, and as for social network friends we have to be very careful!


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