How Valuable Are Your Online Friends?

How Valuable Are Your Online Friends?

Do you have any online friends?  Have you met any of them in the flesh or is it all just cyber chat?  How do your virtual friendships rate against your real time ones?

I, like many others of my midlife generation, am to coin a phrase a “digital immigrant”.  Born before the advent of the digital age that defines my children’s formative years, I have embraced it by default.   Writing my blog has forced me to engage with technology in a way in which to be honest I am still not 100% confident or comfortable with, as well as adopt social media profiles which would, if they knew, have my teens rolling in the aisles.

When I started out on this foray into the digital unknown, however, I underestimated the ability of technology to connect you not only with like-minded people with a passion to be a scribe, but also with kindred spirits, with shared interests, opinions and values.

In the vast pool that is the World Wide Web the odds of that connection happening just once let alone more than that, appear relatively slim at the outset but I now know it is infinitely possible.

The value of female friendships is a subject close to my heart and when I last wrote on the subject just over a year ago I compartmentalised my friends broadly into my various life stages University, Work, Children.  It never occurred to me then, or even when I started out on this journey, that Blogging would soon be sitting so comfortably alongside them.

Friendship is about connecting, about seeing eye to eye and blogging arguably sorts the wheat from the chaff quicker than many typical realtime scenarios.

The written word leaves you nowhere to hide so any engagement or otherwise is instantaneous.  How many times have you put down a book never to pick it up again because it didn't grab you at the beginning?  Similarly in the online world, if the connection is not there then flicking the off switch is rapid and invariably fatal and of course there is no need for an explanation, after all you don’t really know them.

In the blogosphere I am not a prolific social media user.  Twitter and Instagram are my profiles of choice and more recently a bit of StumbleUpon.   I picked them up as a means to promote my blog as that is what the self-help blogging guides tell you to do and more importantly to engage with others, but my usage is a bit haphazard to be honest. If I have something to share then I will dip in but otherwise I keep a relatively low profile in comparison to many others.

Despite this, however, I have a lovely selection of online soul-mates who I engage with about a variety of subjects that prick my interest.  The obvious one as my title suggests is parenting teens, but then there is the vast array of general family and lifestyle subjects that connect us females worldwide and make us moan and smile. The menopause, skincare, fashion, fitness, entertainment, travel, interiors - the list is endless.

For the cynical, it is easy to be flippant about the value of any friendship nurtured in this virtual world.  For me though over the last few weeks in particular the role and importance of my online female friends has been particularly accentuated, as I have shared details about my recent health status in a more brutal and intimate sense than I might have with some of my offline mates.

That is not to say I have shared more detail online than off, that is not the case at all.  It simply comes back to the power of the written word.  For those of us who enjoy writing we all know it is a cathartic process.  It is emotive, personal, thoughtful and above all permanent.  There is none of the raw transience of the spoken word,  writing strikes directly at the heart of the matter and in the absence of face-to-face contact removes any behavioural awkwardness.

I have met only a few of my online friends in the flesh, yet I feel privileged and touched to have them all in my life whether we have connected through blogging, twitter or instagram.  Every friendship has a role to play in our lives and my digital buddies have certainly enriched mine and are no less meaningful than any other.  In my opinion, the value of a good friendship is found in its significance, not its physical proximity or its period of engagement.

How valuable are your online friends?

What do you think?  How valuable are your online friends? I would love hear to your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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50 Comments

  1. March 3, 2018 / 9:52 am

    I was a teen in the days of MSN messenger and Myspace and had tons of online friends who I’d never met, some of whom I’m still in touch with and have still never met to this day! Blogging has also brought me a new group of people who I feel a connection with and it’s great to have them. Online friendships are definitely just as valid as ‘real life’ ones!
    And congratulations because someone loved this post so much, they added it to the #BlogCrush linky! Feel free to collect your “I’ve been featured” blog badge 🙂

    • Jo
      Author
      March 3, 2018 / 10:08 pm

      Alice you were clearly ahead of the curve! Great to hear that you have so many online friends from so many areas and that you are still in touch with ones from the early days too. Thanks for hosting #BlogCrush and I am delighted Sophie put me forward. X

  2. March 2, 2018 / 5:55 pm

    This is so very true Jo. In fact, I find that on balance, the online relationships become very similar to those in real life. What we thought was odd a few years ago, isn’t. I’m sure people would beg to differ on this but it’s a bit of a fear of the unknown I guess. I’ve heard that people also meet for lunch too -plain weird that! He, he. )The Champagne has had a head start in the chiller this week!) I feel as though I have met many of our linkers, even though we haven’t. I’m sure you do too x #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      March 2, 2018 / 10:54 pm

      I agree Nicky it is a blurred line between the on and off line worlds. We parenting bloggers have all joked about it I know but there is a huge amount of irony in the fact that we advise our kids not to do exactly what we are doing. It is a guilty pleasure. Just like champagne! Time to pop that cork again some time and see if we can find a better celebrity to gate crash than last time. I am sure we can top it if we try. Xx

  3. March 2, 2018 / 12:20 am

    I often liken social media to standing around at the schoolgate and gossiping – and what better way to make friends? I’ve met up with quite a few online acquaintances, and, while some stayed just that, others have become real friends #tweensteensbeyond
    Mary Mayfield recently posted…Holme Pierrepont Hall – snowdropsMy Profile

    • Jo
      Author
      March 2, 2018 / 12:38 pm

      That is a perfect analogy Mary! It is just like that and I am sure in this weather at the moment when everyone is hunkering down those online connections are being fully utilised, with lots of exchanges and cups of coffee to hand.

  4. March 1, 2018 / 2:24 pm

    my online friends have become my best friends, in fact Peter and I have friends that we forgot we met on SM and have been friends with meeting up when we’re in the UK since 2010. I travelled from Dubai to Canada in 2015 to meet up with a twitter friend and I met all my friends in South Africa online. I had a blogging meet up yesterday and a few more planned while I’m in the UK. I also met my Dubai friends online. If you ever fancy meeting up, let me know, have hire car, will travel and I’m in the UK again May 31st for the summer. #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      March 2, 2018 / 12:39 pm

      Oh Suzanne you sound like you have got this whole online friendship thing completely nailed. Sharon, Nicky and I have been chatting for a while about organising a TTB meet up so we will have to look at utilising the time you are in the UK over the summer and getting on with it.

  5. March 1, 2018 / 1:05 pm

    Friendship comes in all shapes and sizes doesn’t it!? I found many kindred spirits online and value all of my blogging friends. It’s one of the good things about life ‘on-line’ which does get a bad press sometimes. So glad I met you Jo and that we got to meet up in person. Looking forward to the next time! xxx #TweeneTeensBeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      March 2, 2018 / 12:41 pm

      Whatever those on the outside might think of the blogging community it is definitely a very tight knit one and the support is second to none. Yes we definitely have to get a date in for that next meet up – it’s been nearly a year already. That prosecco cork needs popping.

  6. February 28, 2018 / 5:58 pm

    I have been blown away by how man amazing people I have met through blogging, I didn’t ever anticipate that side of it. This coming summer I will be meeting up with one of them in Chicago! It is undoubtedly a different relationship to real friends but in a way it’s like having a good old fashioned pen pal, remember that? #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      March 1, 2018 / 1:05 am

      Oh Liberty that is fantastic, but its funny how you refer to your online friend as being different to your real friends and I say real with emphasis! What are real friends? People we know in the flesh? I like to call my fleshy friends as realtime friends but not to the detriment of my online friends – there are some in the online world I value as equally. Can’t wait to hear your story. X

  7. Ren Blaire Hunter
    February 28, 2018 / 11:15 am

    I am yet to meet a group of online friends, but it must be lovely #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 2:30 pm

      As with all friendships Ren, building a rapport takes time and effort and in the blogging world the link-ups really help with that. Our Tweens,Teens & Beyond community is lovely. Everyone looks out for each other and there is a real sense of camaraderie. You have already made a big impression and we look forward to seeing more of you in the future. X

  8. February 28, 2018 / 10:26 am

    I think you are very good at this actually. Your comments on my Instagram pictures are always really human and real and like you are right there. It’s a gift! If I met more online friends in real life I would not know what to expect. We all project our best side online.

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 2:33 pm

      Oh thank you Janet that is such a lovely thing to say. I hope that I am just being true to myself and typing online exactly what I would say to someone face-to-face. I am sure it doesn’t suit everyone but it works for me and I am glad that you feel that is the case.

  9. February 27, 2018 / 7:07 pm

    I have a couple of bloggers in the “online” list of friends, have met them at blogging events but nothing more. I find it hard to make friends with the blogging community. I think its because I don’t feel adequate enough… #Coolmumclub

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 2:38 pm

      Sonia the blogging community is so enormous, it takes a while I think to find your tribe. I remember in my early days which are actually not that long ago, reading about everyone’s online tribe and thinking how impossible it must be to find. The more you interact, the easier it will become. Just give it time, it will happen. The secret is not to overthink it. Thanks for dropping by. X

  10. February 27, 2018 / 1:28 pm

    Popping back with #tweensteensbeyond

  11. February 27, 2018 / 10:28 am

    QUOTE: In my opinion, the value of a good friendship is found in its significance, not its physical proximity or its period of engagement.

    Well said! My best friend is an Australian I met via an online writing website 3 years ago. We hit it off instantly and have lots in common. We have chatted about anything and everything and it’s a friendship which developed before we even saw a picture of each other…So it feels like a pure and true friendship based on ‘clicking with someone’ irrespective of their appearance, location, religion, sexuality…We message regularly and Skype at least once a week. One day I hope we will meet in ‘real’ life! #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 2:42 pm

      Nothing like saving the best line until last! Glad it resonated with you Jane but it sums up the value of friendship perfectly for me.

      I love your online friendship story. It is the perfect case study of how it is possible to strike up a rapport with someone through shared interests and a mutual understanding. I honestly believed it would never be possible but have been so pleasantly surprised. Equally as with any friendship you only get out what you put in.

      I hope you get to meet your Australian online friend one day – let me know if you do. X

  12. February 25, 2018 / 7:24 pm

    I met some of my best friends on line! They supported me through the hardest times of my life, and having met in person they were there at my wedding, and I at theirs, and we have met several times with our children over the years. I love my on line friends, they have been there for me more than many who live nearby. #mg

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 2:46 pm

      Laura this is such a heartwarming story and another example of how valuable friendships can grow from an online connection. It’s interesting isn’t it how tough periods in our lives can really put the true worth of our friendships in the spotlight? I have been stunned by the wonderful support I have received from my online buddies during the tough period of my recent diagnosis and similarly by the distancing of some of my real-time friends who quite simply have struggled with the notion of offering proper support. Illness or personal tragedy is a good one for that I think. #mg

  13. February 24, 2018 / 5:35 pm

    Through the online world I have met many incredible people including my wonderful husband. #mg

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 2:49 pm

      Oh Helena that is fabulous. I have been stunned by the number of genuinely positive stories that people have shared about the value and importance of their online friendships and yours is no exception. Falling in love online is always a story that provokes a deep “ahhh” moment. Congratulations.

  14. February 24, 2018 / 6:13 am

    In some ways these friendships can almost be more revealing as we can feel safer to share our true selves, well I guess I do anyway. Often in comments I will open up up things that I don’t always feel everyone in my real world. I always share openly with my hubby, my sister and a few friends, but even though I consider many other people great friends I tend to not talk a lot about me. I think I have always been the “listener’ in many friendship groups, or I am the funny girl who doesn’t take herself to seriously, but on my blog and in intimate comments I reveal a deeper side to myself that not everyone else sees. Does that make any sense? There are some truly wonderful and genuine bloggers in this world and I would never have met them any other way. I am so far from most of you living in Australia. Still I feel a kinship with many of you. Lovely post. I hope you are ok honey, you are always on my mind xx And, thank you for sharing this lovely post with #mg
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…What you can do to help heal our worldMy Profile

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 2:56 pm

      Oh Mac you are so right and that is exactly what I was trying to convey in my post. The power of the written word and the anonymity almost of the forum allows people to open up more readily. Like you I have such a wonderful support network of what I call “realtime” friends and a fabulously supportive family yet whilst nothing is off limits in turns of sharing, the deeper sentiment behind the words, the inner me is on show more through my writing.

      I feel honoured to have connected with you online and love your writing as you know but would that connection have happened without it??? We will never know. Thanks so much for your kind words and thoughts. They are always valued. #mg

  15. February 23, 2018 / 7:52 pm

    I was very recently, say in the last week, talking with a dear friend about this very topic! How my ‘blog friends’ from across the globe are very authentic and genuine. I feel the friendships very deeply and the bonds are real! 10 years ago, I would have never thought that possible… and I am pleasantly surprised and delighted by this effect. xoxo #mg

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 3:00 pm

      There is definitely a commo theme Lisa in the comments here that we all seem to concur that these long distance online friendships add a new and valuable dimension to our lives. It is truly fabulous. #mg

  16. February 23, 2018 / 1:31 pm

    #BlogCrush Just like you, I have met some good online friends through blog link ups, Twitter and Instagram. 🙂 Followed you on Twitter!

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 3:01 pm

      Yah, that is fantastic. I am glad that you feel the same way and thanks for the follow – will be sure to follow you back. Thanks for popping by. #BlogCrush

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 3:02 pm

      Oh Sophie bless you! I am late to the show with my comments this week and have only just seen this. Thank you so much for your ongoing support. It means a lot.

  17. February 23, 2018 / 6:37 am

    As you know, I’ve been reflecting on online friends recently too Jo, so this post is spot on. I never thought when I started my blog that I’d actually become ‘virtual’ friends with people – to be honest I thought that kind of thing was a bit weird and to be avoided. But after a year of blogging, and many moments of wanting to remove myself from social media altogether as I’m not a natural and like you, my usage is rather haphazard compared to the pros, I feel a real connection to many people, you included of course. A tribe, albeit small, of wonderful people who I engage with a lot and who are so supportive and warm. That’s the best thing about my blog and it would be very hard to walk away from. Big hugs xxxxx
    Susie / S.H.I.T. recently posted…The Jungle Book at Richmond TheatreMy Profile

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 3:06 pm

      Susie, I know exactly what you mean. The mega league of pro bloggers inhabit a different stratosphere but I love the one I am in and the people I have met. I have thought about throwing in the towel loads of times and probably always will but each virtual friend brings something unique to my life. Your writing on real life issues struck a chord with me early on and I love your humour and gung-ho attitude. Look forward to meeting you next week. X

  18. February 22, 2018 / 8:00 pm

    I think this year I realised more than ever how much the people in my digital world mean to me. This is a lovely post Jo, and I imagine when the chips are down it really resonates even more. Hope your chips are on the up darl xx

    Thanks for linking to #coolmumclub
    MMT recently posted…#CoolMumClub Linky week 92My Profile

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 3:10 pm

      I am sure there is an epiphany for everyone along their online journey when the value of their digital friends is fully realised. As I have said to you before I have been stunned by the support of those who only know me for the words I write, that is humbling to say the least. Thanks for your kind words Sarah, there is certainly light. #coolmumclub

  19. February 22, 2018 / 2:14 pm

    I have met some incredible people online thanks to the world of blogging some of whom I have then gone on to meet in the real world and although we don’t get to see each other in the flesh much – maybe once a year – you can not fail to appreciate the amazing connection you can have despite it being a mainly online friendship. Thanks so much for linking up to #coolmumclub with this Jo and hope you are recovering well xoxo

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 3:13 pm

      It’s like all good friendships Talya, the quality is in being able to just pick up where you left off and it doesn’t matter if that was yesterday, last month or last year. All friendships need a common purpose whether online or off. Thanks for your words of support Talya, I am getting there for sure. #coolmumclub

  20. February 22, 2018 / 12:12 pm

    Friends turn up in the most unexpected places and I’ve made some lovely ones online through shared interests etc. It’s been lovely having them in my life and I’d have never have met them otherwise!

    • February 27, 2018 / 7:36 pm

      Back again from #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 3:16 pm

      Nikki I couldn’t agree with you more. The online world has opened up so many avenues for us all and actually that is quite nice to have as an option. We are connected in life by a shared interest and if that is an online interest then so be it, it needs to be applauded and celebrated just like any other. X

  21. February 22, 2018 / 8:07 am

    I’ve met some lovely people through the blog who I now chat to via messenger on a near daily basis. I’m so pleased to have met some lovely ladies via my blog! #coolmumclub
    The Mummy Bubble recently posted…Dear mummyMy Profile

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 3:17 pm

      That is lovely to hear and another wonderful example of the supportive nature of the blogging community. #coolmumclub

  22. February 20, 2018 / 6:49 pm

    I’m a confident introvert and actually quite a shy person who takes ages to get to know someone well. I have a handful of really close real life friends who I treasure dearly but I have been surprised on how lovely the online community have been since I have been blogging. I love that. Even though we have never met, I want to know how Liz is getting in on her travels and I want to know that you are doing ok. So hello lovely online friend! We may never have met but I still think, in this bonkers time of the internet, we can still be friends even though I have no idea what colour hair you have!
    As ever, a great post. Xxx
    Sophie recently posted…Tropical Plants You Can Grow in England.My Profile

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 3:22 pm

      It’s interesting isn’t it building up an impression in our mind of what a person is like simply through their writing. For me as an English student the written word has always been a powerful medium and I think you can tell a lot from a person by the way they express themselves on the page/screen! I think I am a pretty good judge of character generally and you strike me as someone I could easily get on with. In fact one of my dearest and oldest offline friends lives in Bath and is passionate about gardening. Next time I go down to visit I will let you know and maybe we could all hook up – the only problem being she doesn’t know I blog – although she keeps telling me to which always makes me smile. Oh and so you know I am a brunette – ignoring the inevitable grey of course. X

  23. February 17, 2018 / 9:47 pm

    I love my online friends. I have a few that I have never met but I call them real friends. Some bloggers, some not. One of my closest friends I’ve known for 15 years but I’ve never met them. I speak every couple of days and the support has been amazing over the years. x
    Kim Carberry recently posted…Week 7 – A photo everyday for a year. #Project365My Profile

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 3:25 pm

      Kim that is fantastic to say that one of your closest friends is someone you have met online 15 years ago and speak to every couple of days but are yet to meet. Of course that is completely feasible. Sometimes it is hard to meet up with those who live just around the corner. A great story and thanks for sharing it with me.

  24. February 16, 2018 / 5:42 pm

    This time last year I never would have dreamed that I could feel such a connection with friends that I had made ‘online’. I thought that stuff only happened in Minecraft.
    Without blogging I never would have met you (well, not met, not yet!) and a heap of other friends. Women who I feel I can trust and who, to be honest, know me better than some of those friends in real life. I think it’s because maybe we let more go online, safe in the knowledge that it’s just a computer screen. I don’t know. I just know that I talk to online blogging friends about a lot more things than i ever imagined I would. In real life, I’m actually quite shy!

    Great post as always missus! xx
    Liz Deacle recently posted…Travelling With Teens? 10 Survival Items You Will Want To Buy. (For Their Sanity and Yours.)My Profile

    • Jo
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 3:30 pm

      Liz there are a couple of recurrent themes in the comments on this post and one is that the online world enables people who normally consider themselves shy to come out and be more expressive. Reading your blog you come across as possibly one of the most confident people I know. Your writing is full of enthusiasm and exuberance which doesn’t quite sit with a naturally shy person. I loved it when you joined our link-up with your natural humorous take on life as a mother of teens and I love your blog now with your crazy travel stories – as I said to you before the stories I read whilst in hospital straight after my op really lifted my spirits in a way and had me laughing through my pain and that takes skill my love. Don’t you dare visit London without getting in touch! X

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