Are Online Friendships Genuine?

Posted on January 31, 2010

Avnish Gaurav:

Making online friends is like pouring water into a porous sieve. The friendship will never be cemented without a proper meet-up. This does not mean that a meet-up guarantees a lasting friendship but at least it will stand a better chance of surviving.

There are people who get furious when asked about the authenticity of online friendship. For them, knowing a person face to face or through a computer screen is the same thing. They argue that they can know people and their families better through their writings. People who suffer from an ailment or stress (rare or common), can find others like themselves throughout the world and share their joys and/or sorrows.

As far as converting online friendship into a relationship is concerned, it has been questioned at different points of time. Nothing in this world is as difficult and heart-wrenching, and yet as wonderful as finding someone to spend your days and nights with. However, going online to find your soul mate has become commonplace in our society now. Based on Durkheim‘s idea that social differentiation in modern societies leads to division of labour and to increasing alienation between individuals, some authors argue that the use of new technologies like the Internet will promote social isolation.

Some teenagers in America feel that relationships that once might have withered are now nourished by the ease and speed of instant message exchanges and email messages. Difficult conversations with friends are now mediated by the emotional distance the Internet provides. Internet conversations sometimes seem easier than those that take place face-to-face. Teens say that this can be very helpful, especially in otherwise awkward situations or at times when they are feeling too shy to speak. Conversely, relationships with friends and romantic partners are sometimes hurtful or destroyed because of misunderstandings sparked by the very voiceless aspects of Internet communication (even though VOIP is much popular these days).

Friendship is a feeling of comfort and emotional safety with a person. It is when you do not have to weigh your thoughts and measure your words, before keeping it forth before your friend. It is when someone knows you better than yourself and assures to be by your side in every emotional crisis. It is when you can sleep fighting and get up in the morning with a better understanding. Friendship is much beyond roaming together and sharing good moments. Some people call for isolating online friendship completely from real life friendship. For them, the two are entirely incomparable.

The Internet has the potential to make us socially isolated, lonely and depressed, according to the unexpected results of a study of home computer users by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University. The technology that has allowed people to keep in touch with distant family members and friends, to find information quickly and to develop friendships with people around the world, apparently, is also replacing vital, everyday human communication. Many users may be substituting weak online friendships for their stronger, real-life relationships. You don’t have to deal with unpleasantness, because if you don’t like somebody’s behaviour, you can just log off. In real life, relationships aren’t always easy. Yet dealing with some of those hard parts is good for us. It connects us to people.

Offline friendships involve more interdependence, breadth, depth, code change, understanding, commitment, and network convergence than online friendships. However, although the qualities of both online and offline friendships improve as the duration of the relationship increases, the differences between the two types of friendships diminish over time. The influence of the structural and normative constraints typically found in face-to-face interaction may be different of the online setting.

Some view online dating as the new business strategy. People are attracted towards a product or service more if they are referred to by some friend.

Well, we have already discussed numerous P’s and Q’s of online friendship. Nothing in this world can be dubbed right or wrong as a whole lot. It is just a matter of perspective. Like democracy is the best form of governance among all available options, not the best absolutely; so is the case with everything else. If our society can accept nuclear bombs, numerous social taboos then why not online friendships? Anyways it is better to have some form of friends rather than none.

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