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In this digital era – social networking friendship is the way to go! Don’t you all agree with me?
Social networking is hot on the Internet, and you too are on so many of the social networks; aren’t you?
I’m sure you make plenty of friends on them. Literally, thousands of them!
But are they really your friends? Of course, not every one of them can be called a friend.
Or, maybe YOU believe they can be. Obviously, this would depend on your personal definition of friends and friendship.
Do you think online social networking can develop true friendships?
Can you really compare online friendships with the traditional friendships?
We’ll try to answer these and many other related questions in this post.
Let’s first define the terms and the try to understand the complex evolution of friendship, and various perspectives of social network friendship.
What is Online Social Networking
A social network, according to Wikipedia, is the term used to describe a social structure determined by interactions, such as relationships between individuals.
A community is an example of a social network. Generally, it is specific to a geographical location and built upon an ideology, lifestyle, and belief common to all.
Today, communities have lost their geographical limitations and have evolved becoming global through online social networking.
This is a platform for like-minded people to share their views, thoughts, and feelings.
Online social networking is a way to build communities and online friends.
Who Are Online Friends
I’ve discussed in detail about “who is a friend” in one of my earlier posts, but I’d just share what I read somewhere online:
“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.” ~ Anonymous
Do you agree? One of the online dictionaries defines a friend as a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard and a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
However, today we often loosely use the term friend for any casual relationship. A classmate, colleague, the person you met in the bar, or the one you meet regularly at the saloon are all friends.
Similarly, for most people, anybody whom we connect to through the social networking friendship platforms is an online friend.
Whereas, I beleive dealing more at the personal level and connecting to online people for who they are, their views, and thoughts could be termed online friendship
Then, making acquaintances and contacts for social and business benefits and purposes can be called as social networking.
“Hold a true friend with both your hands.” ~ Nigerian Proverb
Online Social Networking Friendship
I believe that friendly relationships may be graded into different levels like acquaintance, social or business contacts, friends, and good or true friends.
I’d say the term online social networking friendship covers all of the levels of friendship, and the definitions of online friendship and social networking.
As per this term, you develop social contacts to seek reciprocation, mutual cooperation and help, but are concerned about them and treat them as friends.
Your friendship is not purely commercial or completely selfish, and not based on some ulterior motives. This relationship is transparent and there’s no deception.
Social networking friendship is social networking that does not end when your interest or objectives are met or not met. You treat it as a friendship and not just as a contact contract.
Such friendships are treasured at a personal level and are bonded by just your thoughts and online presence.
It’s time to look at social networking friendship from another perspective.
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Social Networking and Friendship – A Bloggers Perspective
Bloggers are altogether different – aren’t they? I can see your head nodding in agreement. 🙂
As a blogger, I believe in making as many social contacts as possible to build connections and relationships.
And, this way I’ve made many online friends, who might not always be from my niche – but they are friends.
We’ve a special place for each other in our hearts and minds. After all, successful blogging is all about developing long term relationships with your readers and building a community with them.
In an online friendship, you generally bypass all factors that could make your relationship biased like physical, financial, and personality attraction.
You evaluate each other only through what is written or spoken online. Skype chats and Google+ Hangouts provide more dimensions to your online friendships.
Imagine that most of you just see one permanent picture of each other all the time, and don’t meet face to face ever, yet you feel so strongly attached and related.
This is definitely not due to your face, where you come from, or what your background is. Instead, it’s due to what you share and contribute through your words, which are nothing but a form of your thoughts.
And, have you noticed that some of you must be even using your old pics that maybe don’t at all look like your present appearances!
In an offline relationship, you can know the person by seeing them face to face and reading their body language.
However, when I interact with a person on my blog through the comments, I feel as if I can almost read the mind and understand the person.
I think this is great because in such relationships we tend to consider each other as equals, as fellow humans.
I’ve developed some great online friendships over time, and I can shout out loud that online social networking friendship rocks for me!
But does it really always work this way? There are some people who think differently.
“Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.” ~ W Clement Stone
Pros and Cons of Online Social Networking Friendship
Like your physical or offline world, the online world too is not ideal. Does such online social networking friendship really work?
There are definitely disadvantages and limitations of social networking friendships. However, there is also something special about such relationships that bloggers are able to leverage beautifully.
- Sometimes social networking destroys relationships, or online friends might turn out to be imposters or villains.
- Not all online social networking relationships are real as people fake them for their own selfish reasons.
- Online friends can even create false impressions by manipulating their thoughts and words, and you may never find out.
- On the social networking platform, you may find people pretending to be what they’re not. They might even deceive you about their location, age, and sex!
- You’re surrounded by many people, yet you feel completely alone. This I feel is a major drawback of social networking friendship.
- I’d say that social networking friendships create a feeling of closeness and intimacy, which actually doesn’t exist.
- Social networking friendship mostly follows the principle – out of sight, out of mind. Once you’re out of touch and contact, you forget each other and don’t feel that connected and concerned- unless you are really close friends
Although this may happen in real life too, but it’s easier to do the vanishing act online.
I’ve seen people coming over at my blog and interacting a few times, and one fine day they just disappear never to appear again – all I can see are just the links they left behind. 🙂
Tell me, how many of you would really like to personally meet your online friends from any corner of the world and carry on the same level of relationship as maintained online?
Would you not be dissuaded by differences and the factors of background, culture, and way of living, habits, language, etiquettes, and others? Not necessary I heard you say, but some might.
Is your online social networking friendship for real?
- An online friendship can smoothly graduate and undergo the transformation unaffected by any factors and turn into a true relationship.
- Yes, many online friendships convert into true life friendships because they believe the online relationship makes it easy for them to help know each other at their basic thought level. Some of these friendships even turn into beautiful relationships that end up in happy marriages.
- Social networking friendships do a great job in connecting people across the globe and round the world.
- The cultural differences and boundaries become insignificant in social networking friendship, helping to exchange great deal of information among people.
- It’s not only easy but also quick to find like-minded people in any corner of the world.
- Social networking friendship removes any age barrier that might be present in traditional friendships. You’re more free, open, and acceptable to other people’s thoughts and experiences.
I can personally vouch for online social networking friendship. I’ve been able to develop a strong blog community because I’ve treated all my social contacts as friends.
I’ve been blessed with many online friends, many of whom you’ve seen leaving wonderful comments here.
While there are many others, who don’t visit my blog as it’s not of their niche – but that’s ok – we are still friends. 🙂
“A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.” ~ Elbert Hubbard
Is Social Networking Friendship Working for You
I conclude by asking the same questions as I did in the beginning of the post.
Do your online friends really become your friends in the true sense? Can there be a true friendship between you and your online friends?
Can you really compare online friendship with the offline or traditional friendship? Which is more successful?
I hope you were able to find your answers.
If you’re looking for genuine friendship, do you think social media is the right place? Does it offer deep or shallow friendships?
Can social networking keep alive the true spirit of friendship?
So let’s wrap up this post by taking this poll.
Did the result come as per your expectations? Has this poll made you rethink on your concept of social networking friendship?
Lastly, as some of you know, I’m experiencing some problems with my Facebook account and am not able to access it.
In fact, the Facebook people sent a security code on my registered mobile number, but unfortunately that number has expired and is no longer in use.
Until I feed in that code, which obviously can’t happen till I update my number on my account, Facebook won’t let me access my account. That’s silly, isn’t it?
I’m trying my best to correspond with the Facebook support team, which isn’t very responsive, but I still hope everything will all work out soon.
That means, I’ll not even be able to share this post with wonderful people like you and other fans and friends.
Although I never ask, but this time will you be kind enough to do me a favor and share it on my behalf with your friends and fans?
Thanks so much in advance for my being my good online friend. 🙂
“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” ~ Aristotle
Over to You –
What do you think about online social networking friendship? Do you think the meaning of friendship has changed in this social networking world? Have you had any good or bad experience with online friends? Do share in the comments below.
Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos