Okay, this is not one of those clichéd posts about friendship , and how much friends mean to me and how I'd die without them!! This one's about online friendship (even more clichéd!! :D).
A couple of weeks back, just before I could leave for Ahmedabad to meet my blog friend Sakhi and also, soon after I came back, I was bombarded with a lot of questions from my friends all over.. I got reactions and questions like "How can you go so far to meet an Internet friend??", "How can you trust someone you've never met?", "Why do you have to go all the way there? She's just an Internet friend, let it go!", "Are you out of your mind???", "OMG!!!".
Most people seem to think online friendships never last, and you can never meet good people online. This post is just to clarify some myths about friends you make off the net.
First of all, the general protocol that people seem to have created and religiously followed is : "Internet friends should never be trusted".
Now suppose, you happen to follow a random person's blog regularly because you find it interesting,then you happen to comment on it, and then add the person in your IM list just because you want to know the person behind the blog. Over a period of time, you happen to know the person well, and wish to meet the person you've been communicating with for so long! But as per the protocol, you can't. You are not supposed to trust the person (Internet friend after all, right?). You've read all of the person's posts, chat with the person everyday, even talk over the phone sometimes, you even go to the extent of sharing your life with the person (wasn't the "trust" factor there then?), and now, just because you have met this person online, you can't trust him/her. So now,there is nothing left to do than feel sorry for not having met the person by some other means. What's the point?
Another FAQ : "Don't you have enough friends already?"
I don't surf the internet solely to MAKE friends (Some people do, but that's another story!). Friendships take place by themselves just like they do in real life, and you don't discard a friendship just because you have enough of friends, do you? :)
I've always felt it's all a game of odds. There is always that risk factor everywhere. You may be strolling on the road,slip on a banana skin and fall on your face! When I put forth my opinion with this example, most people throw me back a "That's another case,but when you know something's risky,why would you still do it? Why would you dig your own grave?" I certainly don't think it's as risky as that !! I don't say you should add random people and meet every other person you have on your list. I say, get to know the person, give it time, a LOT of it, trust your instincts and only if you're really sure you can go ahead and meet the person preferably in a public place (that again depends on the level of trust the two of you share).
I am of the opinion that online friendship is infact the purest of them all, because you directly connect with the person and not with how he/she looks, not by the kind of clothes he/she wears, not by the company he/she keeps, not by the family background, you basically get to know what the person is really like without associating any preconcieved notions about him/her.
In the last one year, I've met wonderful bloggers, even met a couple of them in real life and we have our own small blogger circle now. I've also made a few friends on Twitter, and they all seem to be genuinely good people.
There also have been a couple of cases where I have interacted with people online and didn't feel like trusting them or was wrong about them, but again, if you're not comfortable with the person, you don't end up making friends just like it happens in real life. We don't enjoy hanging out with the people whom we aren't compatible with, do we? So, the point I'm trying to make is- it's all the same. I am not saying I'll always be right in determining who can be trusted and who cannot, I might be wrong about people in future. But those are the chances we all have to take. How many of us have NEVER been betrayed by their real life friends? Betrayal and deceit are a part of friendships and other relationships. You don't stop making friends just because you got stabbed in the back by him/her, do you? Sure, it takes time to trust all over again, but you surely can't refrain from doing it forever.
To sum it up, online friendships are just the same as real life friendships. They happen on their own. They can either break or even last forever. Nothing is ever certain anyway! It all depends on the choices you make. :)
P.S : Happy Friendship Day to all my friends and readers :)
Wasn't really excited about it this year, guess I'm getting old :D