Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association. Friendship has been studied in academic fields such as communication, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and philosophy. — Wikipedia
Roughly Ten Years Ago
Not so long ago, we would meet our new friends on the school ground. We would meet some at our work or bookstore, at a coffee shop, and it would be something physical. Now, it changed. Something in us shifted. It’s like a reversed, and we must adapt to new types of friendships…or maybe that’s just me?
For introverts, the introduction to chats on the Internet or forums made it easier to express themselves. Don’t get me wrong. I’m one of those! I am not comfortable speaking to people or elaborating vocally on subjects. Social gatherings for me are of minimal importance.
I view social interactions as a handicap and futile. I fill out my social obligations and then retreat. It takes me up to a week to recover from social events because of the energy it requires out of me. They are quite draining for someone as introverted as myself.
When chats came to existence, people like me, were able to find each other and exchange in a manner that we found acceptable. It was a real opportunity. It took off the social anxiety and replaced it with the comfort of our home.
Today, what was once a haven for the introverts, is turning into a place where meeting people of many masks conventional.
My mother taught me to play nice with others. Sometimes I wonder if she would have reinforced that “rule” if she met two friends I met, let’s call them X and Y. They are kind people, don’t get me wrong, but work and friends don’t mix well.
The new era of online friending became harder to handle as social media grew. Now, it takes a higher percentage of our lives every second that passes. We are continually trying to keep up with the new demands. Facebook alone acquired MSN and created Messenger. While it does have its positive points, common sense becomes a necessity.
Introverts who felt safe, now are finding it harder to judge people: are they a good match to my personality or not? Harder to see when faceless. Who can see who is playing and who isn’t? Four years ago, I met a client who became a friend, who presented me with her relative, who presented me to another friend.
One of them is now one of my closest friends. I can tell him anything, share anything, I know he would take it to his grave. He is one of my greatest inspiration and a faithful friend. He is unique, and his way, wise. He was present at my wedding, and I wouldn’t change him for the world. He often put me back together after a fight with X and Y.
Keyboard and Mouse
Online friendships are just as valid as those people have in the physical world. The words touch us, create bonds beyond physical touch, makes us laugh and cry. There is no difference at the exception that thirty years ago, I wouldn’t have had friends in the USA or Europe. Now, I do.
It is a beautiful thing to break down the walls and has no more obstacle to uniting people. However, the hurt it can bring when those friendship end, are no less painful than those you can touch.
Chatting, video chats, and visits are three steps to complete the circle of creating a strong online friendship. They are steps that open your heart more to the experience. You worked for that friendship harder than most. The fall is therefore from higher as well.
The hurt when X and Y decided that the work I’ve done for them wasn’t worth the bill despite them agreeing to it, had me worried. For over four years, I was present for them and helped them build their website, platform, and videos. I taught them techie routines they’d need to know to become an online presence in fantasy. They commissioned me over again, and that should’ve been enough to prove to them I was an excellent online freelancer.
X and Y thought otherwise. X and Y didn’t understand that website building is not a fixed priced but an hourly rate. So, the battle started roughly a month ago with keyboards and a mouse. An online friendship that ended in the vast online universe that is the Internet.
The Aftermath of an Introvert
Online friendships are no different than regular ones. Once we used letters, then phones, now texts and chats. Once we used a home camera with VHS to tape gatherings, now we either use video chat or phones. The intentions and personality of people remain the same.
The bottom line is, for the introvert that I am, the only way I found to explain my friendship with X and Y is this: Like an android, i.e., an artificial intelligent computerized machine, I’m used to people being part of my external day-to-day routine.
I grow accustomed to the presence of certain people, whether they are good or bad. I have specific external interactions with people, and it’s harder for me to integrate a new algorithm and delete the presence I am accustomed to without disturbing my current operating system.
Some advice that I received was wise. Other online friends say I should see it as an upgrade on my operating system. It takes time to adjust to the new routine. I believe it to be true.
Online or in the real world, friendship is something to be cautious about so that we don’t end up with broken trust. Online or not, emotions are part of being human, harder to control, and harder to upgrade.