Are Internet Friends Real Friends?

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In 2007 Sheffield Hallam University did a study and stated that Internet friends are not real friends.  According to them: “In order to form real, trustworthy bonds, people have to meet in person and forge ongoing personal relationships with dimension. A couple messages here or there and a shared photo album from your party do not great friends make.”  However in 2011 Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project discovered that: “People who are not online have the smallest social networks, are more socially isolated, get the least amount of social support”. 

I have developed numerous types of relationships online.  Some are just based on random acts of kindness.  Twice here at AAR people have sent me messages stating, “I have the book you are looking for and will be glad to mail it to you”.  Talk about brightening my day.  Others developed into e-mail relationships talking about books and then from there developed into friendship.  Some of my Internet friends know more about my trials and tribulations than my co-workers and have been a great source of comfort to me.

While Internet friends may never be close friends – most American now say that they have only two friends that would loan them a large sum of money or let them crash at their place for a while – they do contribute to my well-being.  They brighten my day.  They read my e-mails about my joys and my sorrows, and even though I have never talked in person to these individuals I do consider them friends and I am blessed that they are in my life.

How about you, do you have Internet friends?  How do they make a difference in your life?

- Leigh AAR

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4 Responses to “Are Internet Friends Real Friends?”

  1. maggie b. says:

    I think internet friends are real friends in many ways. While we don’t do lunch or other things together, we do talk And sometimes that talk can be more meaningful than what we share with every day acquaintances.

    The great thing about internet friends is that they can share an intererst that our everyday friends simply don’t. While my two closest friends are readers they don’t read as much romance as the people at AAR. It is good to come here and talk about what I like to read and hear about what others like to read.

    So yes, to me, my internet friends are real.

  2. Tee says:

    That’s an interesting question, Leigh. Where do you get all your ideas? I don’t know how to answer it, though. I feel, especially here at AAR, that I’ve come to know some people, but only because of books and any other information they they may have shared along the way. But I’ve thought about this and realize that if I would stop commenting, most people would probably not even notice. And if they did, they might wonder why, but most likely let it go. We are cyberspace friends, with something in common. And, yet, when I see so many familiar names, I do feel as though I know them (but not really).

    Told you this was a toughie. So, I agree with Maggie and you that Internet friends are real, but they could disappear like a flash and you may never really know what or why. But I enjoy them and their comments just the same for now and hope that we all stick around for quite a while.

  3. Lea Hensley says:

    I have made a few online friends with AAR’s staff over the past seven years and learned a lot from them as well.

    I have many acquaintances online – I know their preferences and enjoy their thoughts but wouldn’t know how to keep up with them if they disappeared.

    I have made several friends through the audio column who I would make a point to keep up with if they disappeared – and I know how to.

    But two years ago I made what I consider a close friend online. We would have never met if it hadn’t been for our common interests on the internet. We’ve worked on a few projects together and talk on the phone occasionally. We share pictures of our families and what is going on in our lives. I think it very possible we will meet face to face one day. Our similar interests were what fueled our relationship in the beginning and the rest of it just – happened. No trying – it just happened which I think especially cool.

  4. LeeB. says:

    I used to post online at a travel site and was lucky enough to meet many nice people at pub meets in London. And I’m still friends with several of them. And I have met up with others here in the US. And even though we may only see each other occasionally, I consider them friends. And even if I haven’t met people “for real,” I still consider them friends too.