Honest-to-goodness friends

I love love love this post by Kate. Having made sone of my best friends as an adult via ‘those bloggy things’ and social media, Kate’s thoughts ring very true for me. I especially adore the stonking example in the last paragraph…how brilliant?
A friend shared this video on facebook recently (somewhat ironically) and it got me thinking.  This idea that social media is inherently unsociable is a popular one.  As the video says, “this media we call social is anything but; when we open our computers it’s our doors we shut”.  This is a message I’ve seen and heard over and over again, on twitter, on blogs, on facebook, from family and friends.  I’ve been blogging since 2008 and over the years have been told that it’s fake, it’s self-centred, and that any friends I’ve made through blogging aren’t ‘real’ friends as they only see the edited version of me I present on my blog.  I have also been criticised for doing that editing.  Now, I will readily admit that my blog shows edited highlights of my life, partly because I started it as a ‘happy place’ when quite a lot of things in my life weren’t very happy, and partly because I can’t believe that anyone would want to read about me doing my laundry, or having pasta and pesto for dinner yet again, or moaning about my colleagues / bills / hair / the weather.  But I would also argue that we  present edited versions of ourselves in person as well; my boss doesn’t want to know what I had for dinner, and my friend doesn’t need to hear about my split ends.
Mainly I object to the assertion that online friends aren’t ‘real’ friends, and that social media makes us antisocial.  I think both of these things may be true for some people, depending how they use the internet and how they connect with people, but for me these things are not true at all.  If it wasn’t for blogging and other social media I wouldn’t have many friends.  Instead I have a selection of lovely people in my life, from those who I regularly tweet with or occasionally meet for a drink, to those I have invited to my home, to some of my nearest and dearest (and even my land lady!).  I would count all of them as real friends, and friends with whom I am sociable both online and offline.
The popularity of blook club, an Edinburgh book club for bloggers, which saw people coming from far and wide even for the first few meetings, says something about the sociable nature of this supposedly unsociable world.  I’ve invited people I’ve only ever met on twitter to parties and they’ve come, and brought their partners too.  Recently a few of us discussed Friday night drinks on twitter and other people joined in and came along.  We crave social contact, and social media enables that.  Anyone who has moved jobs, or cities, or relationships, knows how hard it can be to make friends as an adult, but it is so much easier with social media.  And not just a list of friends or contacts or followers, but real, honest-to-goodness, drink and laugh and cry with them friends.
So the next time someone tells me that social media isn’t social, that blog land is disingenuous and self-absorbed, that by choosing to spend time online I am choosing isolation and loneliness, I’ll give them my flat as an example:  my land lady is a blogger, I met the friends who helped me move in online, and half of the people at my flat warming were twitter friends.
Categories: Friend That Made Me Me, Life
15 interesting thoughts on this

15 Comments

  1. Posted August 6, 2014 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    YESSSSSS!! *fist-pumps, high-fives and a hell-yeah*

    I feel so awkward when I say to my mum: ‘oh my friend had a baby! Look! *shows pic*’ Mum: ‘Where do you know her from?’, Me: ‘Twitter…’

    The thing is, I feel as close (if not more so) to some of the amazing ladies I know from Twitter and such, to my friends that I have IRL. Just yesterday I had a large freak-out about a job interview and knew just who to turn to – two very sensible supportive ladies on twitter who were free with lots of pep talks and motivation. Similarly, my followers on instagram (i feel) give me an honest outfit opinion should I need it, compared to my husband who doesn’t notice the difference.

    I am not lucky enough to have any friends within close proximity, and unfortunately my oldest friends are also perhaps the most absent from my daily life. I know they’d be there for a meet up, big events etc, but when it day-to-day rantings or support I need, I know the marvelous ladies of the internet are there…and i hope that I am too for them!

  2. Posted August 6, 2014 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    ‘Internet friends’ have got me through the last few years. They(you)’ve entertained me when I’ve been bored, shared frustrations, celebrated with me, consoled me, stopped me completely losing my shit at times. I find it weird that Internet dating is becoming quite accepted but Internet friending is still seen as ‘other’ to a lot of people. I know that if I had an emergency there are 3 people I could call on who are nearby who would be round like a flash to help and 2 of those are AOWettes.
    Basically Internet friends are awesome and people who don’t understand are weird.

  3. aDizzyGirl
    Posted August 6, 2014 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    At least 6 of my closest friends started out as internet friends. Now, they’re just very good friends. They know more about me than some friends I’ve had for years. When something happens, good or bad, big or small, they are the first people I turn to and they are always there – cheering me on, giving me a much need kick up the backside or just lending a friendly ear.

    On top of that, there’s even more wonderful people who I love to meet up with and stay in touch with online. I’ve made more friends in my home city through twitter than I have in other ways.

    I feel sorry for people who haven’t yet experienced how wonderful internet friends can be!

  4. ChirstyMac
    Posted August 6, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    This is ace.
    Yay! For all the wonderful women of the internet.

    Having to narrow your friendship reach on PROXIMITY? well, now doesn’t that just seem daft? And heavily weighted against anyone choosing beautiful wild and remote locations or teeny rural idylls to live in, no? Come to think if it, pretty heavily weighted against anyone living in big cities too – how scary is making friends then?!

    Why should we limit ourselves to only having friends in the small number of people we ever see face to face: how are these people and friendships more ‘real’? There’s a whole huge world of fantastic people out there, and we can meet them!

    Social media is awesome. No, not instead of life. As part of life.
    PS – You are ALL awesome and I love you all :) X God bless the internet for AOW.

  5. Katielase
    Posted August 6, 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    A million yesses to this. Since I gave birth to my daughter I’ve received from women I met online (through AOW and Twitter) cards with words of wisdom that brought tears to my eyes, presents selected and/or made with kindness and love, two people left cake and gifts on my doorstep, not wanting to intrude but wanting to be kind. One of those wonderful humans later came round and brought dinner for me and my husband, and then cleaned my kitchen. It was women of this community who helped when I was scared I couldn’t do it, who told me it was normal to feel afraid. I don’t know what all that is if it isn’t real friendship. Real love. Anyone who wants to tell me differently can sod right off, basically.

    And this is all just one example. I’ve lost count of the laughs and the advice and the wisdom and the nonsense I’ve chatted on Twitter AND in real life with women I met online. You’re all brilliant. My life would immeasurably less without the friends I have made here.

    KL xx

  6. Posted August 6, 2014 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Yes, yes, yes to this. I’ve been pretty quiet online of late but I know that my online friends are always there. Sometimes it’s the online friends who make the most effort, anf ot really is a very special thing to be part of

  7. Posted August 6, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    *and that – small toddler helping there!

  8. mysparethoughts
    Posted August 6, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I’ve attended the wedding of friends I have met on the internet! If that doesn’t make them real friends then I don’t know what does. I got married first and I’m gutted that I wasn’t brave enough to invite them, as I’m still friends with these people but not everyone that did get invited to our wedding.
    I was very nervous about telling my family about my friends from the internet but then I realised that my Mum and Dad are big into genealogy and are meeting up with complete strangers that claim to be our relations. I’m meeting up with people who I’ve had numerous conversations with online – I think I can claim to know more about their lives.
    I have friendships going on 4+ years and some relatively new friendships. The beauty of social media for me is that you can dip into a conversation significantly more easily than you could in a bar or a shop. How else are you supposed to make new friends, when you’re shy? Since University I have made friends with work colleagues, fellow fitness class attendees and more recently Mummy groups – none of whom I’m as open with or feel as close to as my internet friends and my firmest connection to these people is our shared employer, hatred of the plank or that we are both sleep deprived and require a regular intake of cake.

    Great piece and well said. My love of social media doesn’t stop me from enjoying a conversation or admiring a view it enables me to find people to have that conversation with and allows us to admire that view together.

  9. Posted August 6, 2014 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Yes to all of this – and to all of the comments as well. I met my husband through online dating – why would it not work to make friends with people online as well. In reality it’s actually more of a natural progression as you just get talking to people and go from there. As mentioned above, it actually helps you to meet people from a wider range of life situations rather than limiting you to work colleagues, fellow gym members or other specific groups.

    Making friends online has also made those big life moments more manageable. The support I’ve found and seen day to day online for weddings, job hunts, illnesses, pregnancies and just general life fears etc is amazing (although maybe that’s as much to do with you all being awesomely lovely people as it is to do with social media!), and if anything, this has given me more confidence to join in with conversations and to meet up with everyone for cake, burgers and the like, whereas I would be a lot more reluctant to do so if I hadn’t ‘talked’ to people previously.

    In short, I feel very lucky to be even a small part of an online community and to have met so many of you (and plenty more left to meet hopefully!), and it’s enhanced my life in countless ways. Now who would say no to that?

  10. Posted August 6, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Yay to internet friends (anyone else thing of Inbetweeners??) I’ve been a bit down on ‘the internet’ recently but this post made me remember that it’s been pretty nice to make friends with people I met through it. Thanks for the reminder Kate and we must catch up soon in real life!

  11. deltafoxtrotcharlie
    Posted August 6, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Totes agree!!

    Also, am always up for new friends if anyone’s feeling like they need someone to drink wine and make stupid jokes with :)

  12. Amanda M
    Posted August 6, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Love the post; love the comments!

  13. Posted August 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    hehe,these comments prove the post so well. I also had a couple of awkward moments about inviting blog friends to the wedding. But they were ace and made more effort than some of my “real” friends. Also they are often people you know will be right there to reply to help you through any immediate crisis. I think my family get it now :-)

  14. Posted August 6, 2014 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    I love this – Mr W refers to my internet friends as my ‘super friends’ (apparently it’s a Simpsons reference) but through this blog and twitter I’ve met some lovely people, received and sent books and presents, had brilliant conversations and met up for wine, cake, and Ikea trips. What’s not to love?

    (it does get a bit longwinded when explaining to my mum – well there’s this blog I read that I’ve also written for and everyone’s very nice and I’m going to London to see people dressed as ballerinas byeeee – but she does Open University and has long online conversations with people on her course and meets up with them sometimes so she gets it)

    Thank you for writing this!

    K x

  15. kate g
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Well said! How wonderful to be able to make new friends and feel connected even if you’ve never met or may never meet, and what lovely examples are listed above in the comments. I met my husband online as have many others so find it a bit odd that there is a feeling out there that friends will not be as “real” just because you met through social media ie written words (or images) rather than spoken ones. I love that a friendship doesn’t have to rely on proximity. I’d have almost no mates if it did!

    Still I do encounter a negative side of social media and that’s how behavior is changing with prolongued use. I go round to a (really good) friend’s place and after a certain amount of time she’ s constantly looking and commenting on her phone as is her hubby and it just gives me the total shits! I guess it’s her and not social media’s fault, LOL, but there are users out there who have become inconsiderate in their use of it as time has gone by. I look around on the bus every morning with almost every single person’s nose stuck in a phone and in restaurants people tapping away and laughing into their phones while someone sits waiting for them to finish – this behavior is not only becoming more acceptable but the norm and that I find scary.

    And as to people’s judgement on your blog — well people are judgmental on EVERYTHING. If you do something that brings you to a nicer place in life and enriches your life then they can all stuff off!

    The best piece of advice I have ever been given was ” be with people who make you grow” that is so true for this place and the people on here.

    XX

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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