Tag Archive | friends

Virtual Friends… Are they Real Friends? You Bet!

Like to Read? Join a virtual book club.

Like to Read? Join a virtual book club.

One of the most amazing things to come out of this explosion of social media is the friendships that you can make. We teach our children that you have to be careful on the internet. That these “friends” they meet on chat, gaming or fan boards may not be who they think they are. They could be trolls, adults posing as kids, or just completely different personas. How you can’t give out personal information or passwords and that you must be very careful.

All of that is true. But we’re not 12 year old kids. We’re adults and we are on platforms where it becomes very easy to interact with a host of people based on our interests. While true that your first encounter with a virtual person may be fraught with the unknown, one of the wonderful things about social media is that you can regularly interact with these people and filter out the ones who are not who they say they are (or who you simply find you don’t bond with or share their values)

I’m on special Facebook groups filled with individuals who are on there based on our shared interests. Right off the bat I have something in common with these people and I’d call many of them friends. And some of them really good friends. These are people that if I’m frustrated or bored or just want to chat, I feel very comfortable simply IMing them and saying hello. If I need advice, I just do another message and lo and behold, they respond. We regularly play FB games as well and do the little chat sections there too. These people live all over the country – heck, some on the other side of the world, but I can call them friends.

On Twitter I get to interact with peeps on a whole different level. It’s usually funny little quips and comments back and forth. It’s very hard to be “intimate” in 140 characters, so you glean from a person just enough based on what they share. But after a few dozen interactions over months, you start to know people and can chat with them. That’s where specialized lists on twitter come in. You can select a smaller group of people and just visit those lists to see what they’re up to.

You see, each of us seeks things we might be missing in other areas of our lives. It’s why we have friends in the first place. We might have the one friend that likes to go out and party, we have the friend we can have private conversations with, the friend that likes to cook, the one that will let you cry on her shoulder and never judges. The friend that gives you the attention to simply speak to them about your feelings and they don’t walk away or do something else – the ones that make you feel valued and worthy and that what you have to say is important enough to give you the attention you deserve to simply listen. At least virtually. 🙂 Now, with social media, you have outlets for all these things.

So for people frustrated that they are not being heard in their personal lives, seek out new friends online. There is absolutely no reason in this day and age to remain sitting in your house alone with no one to talk to. While real life interaction is always preferred, this is a very fine second option. Find a like-minded Facebook group, go find a cool hangout on Google+, play games on FB, interact on Twitter. Respond to people. If you’re an author and want advice, there are literally thousands of authors on FB in groups – groups to tweet, groups for blogs, groups for advice. Do you love a certain writer? There are groups to obsessively drool over them. Do you like to cook? Are gluten-free? Groups for those. Just be aware, though. I’ve found on some groups the “flavor” of the people wasn’t to my personal liking. I’ve actually left some groups because they were filled with people with a different value system than I had. Or they were angry people, or complainers. You see, a virtual group really is like real life cliques. They morph into their own category of people and you could choose to remain with them or leave. The great thing about social media is it’s a simple “stop notifications” button, leave group or just delete and you’re done and ready to find another group that better fits your needs.

Yes, you need to be careful, yes you must remember that sometimes people are not how they appear, but after a while, just like in real life, you will be able to recognize the real friends you are making. So your lesson for today is go out right now, type in your hobby in a search button and find a new friend. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Love to hear your thoughts.