The internet is a funny thing. Years ago, you had to be skeptical if you planned on ever meeting an online acquaintance in person. Internet friends were frowned upon as manipulating predators looking to take advantage of the innocent. As the internet world has developed, the rules seem to have changed. Dating sites still advise to always meet matches in a public place, taking safety precautions such as telling a friend when and where you will be meeting this person.
Yet I trust my blogging friends more than some of the people I have known for years.
This weekend I had the awesome opportunity to not only reconnect with a friend I hadn’t seen in almost eight years, but to also meet many of the excellent bloggers from the Brazen Careerist community. The internet had provided me with an opportunity for connecting and reconnecting, building relationships with people whose most recent identities I only know through online profiles.
“They” argue that you cannot possibly develop a meaningful relationship with someone online. As a Navy brat, I have a hard time developing meaningful relationships with people in real life. Online relationships feel like the only ones I can do. See, I’ve moved so often that it never made sense to keep in touch with the friends I made in each location. I wasn’t planning on seeing them ever again.
With the invention of facebook, I have connected with a couple of people I can vaguely remember from one of my 10 hometowns. I feel guilty, however, that the majority of my contact with long-lost friends is limited to the annual Christmas card. Do they still count as friends?
On the flip-side, I’ve developed relationships with exceptional bloggers, especially through Brazen and Twitter, with whom I connect a few times a day. Our conversations are limited to comments and mentions, but does that make them any less meaningful?
The internet has made the world very small. I mean, Ryan Healy and I lived on the same floor of the same apartment building in Arlington, VA at the same time but hadn’t met until we were both Mid-Westerners. This weekend I discovered that these online relationships are the new friendship, especially for someone like me. This world of location-independence means I don’t have to leave friendships behind everywhere I go. I can even build friendships with people before I get there.
So if you have friends you haven’t connected with in years, blogger and twitter friends who have become your besties, take a road trip. Meet at a farmer’s market, coffee shop, local pub, or campus event.
Take a chance, gas up the car, and get excited.
As special shout out to Rebecca, Ryan, Ryan, Caitlin, JR, Dan, and the rest of the gang who met up with Brennan and I in Madison.
The views expressed in my blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.
Photo from my profile on Brazen.