Internet Friends

“Internet friends are real friends!” 

We’ve all heard the claims and counter claims. Most people have picked a side. Which is inherently weird since nobody has bothered to define what friendship is, or what constitutes real friendship. 

How is real friendship different from unreal friendships? What are unreal friendships? I’m pretty sure we’ve all known someone we’d define as a false friend. You know the one – Mx. I’ll Be There To Hold Your Hand™. Nobody ever reads the fine print though – until it inconveniences me or is more than I can handle or until it requires me to put some effort into shaping the parameters of our friendship. But were they ever really a friend to begin with? Or were they some other kind of relationship that we just didn’t recognise at the time? 

Aaaand we’ve come full circle back to what constitutes friendship.

I don’t know. I don’t have a global answer, or even a vaguely broad answer to this. 

I do know that my ride-or-die lives in another country on the other side of the world. You know, that person who will actually help you bury the bodies and create an alibi. The person who will unfailingly and lovingly call you on your bullshit, and then give you the space to learn and grow. I do know that I video chat with her as often as we both can, and she’s the one I turn to both when there’s something to celebrate and when life goes to shit. 

I know that I also have people who own real estate within my heart who live in other countries around the world. Folks who slip into my DMs in a panic when life’s thrown them a curve ball. Folks who I message on every platform when I know they’re going through some shit.

I know that I have in-person friends who I meet for coffee that extends into lunch that extends into afternoon tea that screeches to an abrupt halt as one or another remembers they still have kids at school that they need to collect, or appointments they’re now running late for. I also know that those in-person friends are connected with me on one social media platform or another, or maybe on all of them. 

I think “friend” is too narrow a word to contain the intricacies and variances that exists amongst the people who inhabit my life – whether for short, intense periods or long, fluctuating periods or a combination. How can the same word apply to the person who was in my life for one year of university, and to someone who’s been in my life for more than 40 years? 

I do know that people I’ve not yet met in person (see what I did there? I’m holding out hope of still meeting them one day), people I chat to almost every day on Facebook, in Messenger, on Twitter, on Instagram, over WhatsApp, are friends. Friends close enough to share deeply emotional, sensitive, traumatic life events with. 

Fun fact: I haven’t even met all of the YeahWrite editors yet. YET!

Image credit: Dean Moriarty/Pixabay


This post was written for the YeahWrite #448 Nonfiction grid. Click the badge to read other entries. Vote for your favourite! 

6 Comments on “Internet Friends”

  1. I agree with you, Asha. Just because you haven’t met someone in the flesh doesn’t make them any less of a friend. I have different conversations – face-to-face chats have less about me; others can plumb hidden depths with someone I really, really trust.

    • Right? There’s definitely a difference in the kind of conversation. I don’t know if the face-to-face is deeper for me. Sometimes, I feel like the internet connections are deeper — something about the stranger-on-the-bus phenomenon I think? Hmm. I’m going to have to give this some thought. Thank you for sparking that process. I’m really curious to see where it leads.

  2. This is such an interesting concept because, yes what does constitute a friend? Someone you see regularly doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘closer’ than someone you talk to online. Friendships and relationships in general are changing and the more we move, the more we relocate, the more time we spend online – they all contribute to this.

    • Yes! The moving and relocation has definitely had a marked effect on my friendships and how I interact with others. There’s a bigger essay here that I’d love someone (else… lol) to write.

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