What Does Friendship Look Like in the Digital Age?

digital friendship

As a writer I spend a lot of time alone. This is both good and bad. Some of the best ideas and creations can come out of solitude, but it’s also nice to get out and have conversations with actual people, rather than just the characters in my novels :).

But for the past couple of years, I’ve found that it’s harder to make friends with people who have the same interests as me in “real life” and it seems I have more relationships online than I do offline. I’ve blogged about this topic before, but I still can’t help but wonder, can digital friendships be real?

I sincerely hope so, because lately I have met some great people online.

Below is the original post I wrote on this topic, it’s from July of 2011, but I think the subject is still pertinent, especially with the increased popularity of social networks.

****From July 2011****

In This World of Social Media, What Makes Someone a True Friend

I’ve talked about how I don’t have any friends here in Missouri, but I do have very dear friends that I’ve known for years that live within a couple of hours from me. While my friendless state should be somewhat embarrassing to admit, somehow I have no qualms about saying I am basically friendless.
Honestly, it’s been a bit of a blessing for me for the past few months. As I have had no distractions or any pressing social engagements, for that matter, I’ve had nothing to keep me from writing. I am very happy about this fact since I finished my second book, and I’ll be starting my third one this week. :-).
I’ve accepted the fact that I’m an old soul and really don’t connect with many people my age on a friendship level. It seems I have hundreds of acquaintances, but very few friends. Not that this is a bad thing.
My friend situation, or shall I say friendless situation, has caused me to redefine what it is to be a friend and to have a friend. I was wondering in this age of Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media, what even constitutes a real “friend” anymore? The line between friendship and acquittance seems to be blurred as most people now have at least a few “friends” they connect with online that they have never met or barely know.

So how do we know who our real friends are?
For me, anyone I can call, text or otherwise reach out to when I am having a bad day, have amazing news to share or am in need of an opinion on something important is a true friend. And in the grand scheme of social media, those people boil down to about ten percent of my total Facebook friend list.
So why have all those other “friends” on Facebook?
I guess because I am human and I like knowing, or at the very least thinking, I am well-liked. Isn’t that what we’re all after? Isn’t that human connection and interaction one of the greatest things about friendship? I think it is.

10 thoughts on “What Does Friendship Look Like in the Digital Age?

  1. I was talking to someone (online, of course) about the difficulties we have relating to people these days. We’ve decided that the more things your survive and overcome, the harder it is for everyday people to relate to you. The harder your life, the smaller your tribe becomes. In that light, finding your people online makes perfect sense.

  2. I find it much easier to talk to people online about books and writing than in real life. Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll bore my friends and family if I go on about such things too often. It’s nice to have a network of other writers online to share things with.

    1. Yes, and maybe it’s just been my experience, but it seems like most members of my online writing groups are less critical of each other’s work.

  3. Perhaps the ability to compose and edit my message makes online communications appealing to me. I can’t always find the right words to express myself face to face; The ability to filter out the thoughts that should remain silent appeals to me and it affords me the opportunity to meet others who share my interest. That said, nothing replaces getting together over a cup of coffee or glass of wine with a friend who shares my passion. I think there are benefits to both.

    1. Diane, I feel the same way, but I think as writers we’re much more comfortable when we communicate in writing, whether that be online or offline 🙂

  4. I have been thinking the same things lately. It’s hard to discuss writing with non-writers, but what else do I have to talk about? The potty training discussions get old.

    1. Joselyn, that gives new meaning to the term “potty mouth” :).
      I bore people, or at the very least make them hungry, by constantly talking about what I made for dinner last week. I can’t help it though, I love cooking 😉

  5. While I’ve finally discovered other like-minded people (writers) in my area, it took a few years. Before that, the only people I could talk to about writing (which, let’s face it, had become the single most important thing in my life right below my family) were people that I met online. God bless the internet, because without it, I don’t know how I would have made it through my first year or two as a serious writer. Writing is such a solitary venture and it’s almost impossible to talk about it with anyone but other writers. (Geez –does that sound elitist? Even so, it’s true–writers need other writers to talk to)

    Meetup is an awesome site to check to see if there are any writing groups in your area. That’s how I finally connected with some other writers in my smallish city.

    I’m glad we’re blogging buddies, Amanda! 🙂

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