Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Online Friends - Are They Worth It ?


I first tried online chatting when I was in the 11th grade. I got access to an Internet connection fairly late as compared to others and I was browsing around when I stumbled across the website of my favorite magazine at that time (Young Times). They had a chat room and I wanted to see what the fuss of getting into a chatroom was all about. Young Times chat is now closed because of some issues with Khaleej times. I dunno the reason for its shutdown exactly but by far it is the most decent chat room that I have ever known. The guys were decent, the girls were funny.. it was a nice online hangout. It wasn't a place where everyone just talked to each other privately leaving the public 'room' a dull place. A group conversation always happened -- something which I loved being a part of. That was almost 10 years ago and I still chat regularly with 4 people I have met there.

I have confided in these people, they have seen (or rather heard) me talking about my ups and downs and have even stuck onto me like a leech inspite of all the major changes in behaviour or otherwise. Are online friends worth the friendship? A big YES! You tend to bond more with online friends on an emotional level. You can type some things out more openly than utter them in real life. Some might even swear that their Internet friends are better than their offline friends. Does everyone think the same way about friendship online? Not really...

A friend told me recently -

"In India, elders still think Internet as a very bad thing! If you are found chatting late night with just about anyone you are sure to be suspected of having some online affair."

This was the story of my life some time back before getting hitched! I have friends in Bahrain who I chat with but back then, it was assumed that I was having an affair with some U.S bloke. Why a guy from U.S you might ask? Coz according to them, no normal human being stays online so late at night -- it just had to be someone from the United States of America or some other place in a similar time zone! Blergh.

So if you ask the elderly people (the conservative kind) if online friends are worth it -- the answer would just be a big fat 'NO!'. My mom used to tell me - 'Why waste so much time chatting with these people... complete waste of time n money I tell you'. As far as I know many parents think the same way too. You can't really blame them for thinking that way. According to them, anything that cannot be seen or heard upfront is not to be trusted. Seeing is believing as in only a physical evidence of your existence can be termed convincing -- and in a way that's right too.

The Internet can be really deceiving at times. The weak appear strong and the smart ones appear docile and subdued. People might appear serious to you online while in actual reality they are just having a very good time on your behalf. Vice versa happens too -- you are the one who's joking but the receiving end takes it badly. You can't really pinpoint one's true personality on chat or through a blog for that matter. Emotional bonding happens fast, but silly misunderstandings happen faster. I have many of my offline friends asking me why I add fellow bloggers to my facebook and gtalk list when I haven't even met them. Bloggers dunno the real me, I dunno the real them. I am told that my online personality is a bit hard to take, and I wonder what the hell are these people talking about coz I have a pleasing personality in real life.

The very same friend told me - 'Once you meet these people offline, all the fun goes out of chats. You have a different version of them before you get in contact with them (how they talk and react to things for example) but afterwards you see that whatever you were thinking abt the person had been the exact opposite of what he/she actually is. If they react differently offline then accordingly later on you react differently in chats keeping that in mind. Those once interesting online relationships just become boring afterwards coz of these very minute changes in reactions.'

I contradicted this by saying that it doesn't have to be true with everyone! I have seen many people gel well after meeting and who continue to have a fun interaction online. But I am not really sure about those who fall in love with people online -- aren't they falling for a personality that's actually or entirely virtual?

What's your take on online friendship?

31 comments:

Shimmer said...

yeah! online friends rock! :D
they are always there for you and judge you less than our other friends :P

although i dont believe in online relationships/. body language is very important! :)

Shanu said...

I have my share of online friends thanks to blogging..but the last one yr has shown me that not everyone you meet online can be trusted esp wit your secrets..u never know when you have have a fallout and the opposite person uses ur deepest darkest secrets to malign you.

That is one of the reasons why I choose to be anon and have revealed my id only to a chosen few :O)

ANWESA said...

Online friendship is certainly not "bad". Its rather wonderful.

In my case,I have online friends only from blogs. I don't talk to complete strangers (Ya, I've my inhibitions).I call them "blogger friends"-they give me a new sort of identity. I can talk to them for hours-and on any topic under the sun.And they listen too.

About marrying people you meet online, again I'm skeptical. You certainly need to see each other in real before walking down the aisle.

Urvashi said...

My take would just as urs on this topic..... there is abig world out htere and u must knwo i nthe first palce waht is right, wrong, true, made-up etc and be able to judge the ppl with whom u interact..

the rest ofcourse depends on these factors and talking about my experience, I ahve been really lucky to have come across good ppl online and on my blog... the interactions have always been knowledgable and funny... But ofcourse it has its own limits and LOVE online seems to me as a far off possibility...!!

Good to read the topic on ur blog....!!

TC :)

Harini said...

Over the years I have had many online friends. But the thing with me is most of them have become my offline friends too. Internet was must a medium threw which we met. One of my best friends is someone I met through an online friend. And LOVE you say... well, I think that can happen too. But given you meet offline and like their offline personalities.

Me-Era* said...

You have taken a really good topic to discuss. I could write a post itself here but I will try and restrict myself. :D

We all know how hard it is to find friends in real life, so if you get someone who is worth to be a friend online, consider yourself lucky!

I agree with you when you said we tend to share things more freely with people online because we don't have to "face" them everyday or don't have the fear they will let out our secrets.

I feel friends, you find it anywhere, are good! But I have leanrt from my own experiences, both online and offline, that every relation should be given due time. I believe if its online, give some extra time other than the due one, lest you fall prey for some pshyco!

I too got access to net in 11th and made my first online friend on orkut. He is still a great friend. That gave me a positive approach to friendships online. :)

Though I have many more online friends now, I don't think I wanna meet them all. You? For sure. Would love to. :)

Tc!

Anonymous said...

My opinion is dat its okay as long as the online friend ur talkin about is ME coz lets admit it m the best thing that ever happened to u. N wen i asked u to write somethin abt me i was expectin somethin a lil more personal :p
Hmm newayz...even though i was one of those ppl u met online, thinkin back, i wudn recommend kids our age should have sat online like that creating virtual friendships :)
beeeecauuuseee a) lets face it,u cant trust 99% of da ppl u meet offline n 99.9% of those u meet online, so statistics r in favor of da offline liars
b) like u said emotional bonding happens reeeal fast n do u rely think u shud be emotionally bondin rely fast with some virtual entity? for all u know it cud be an AXE MURDERER or crazy old woman(you) prowling for innocent lil kids (me) on the other end. thats just looking for the ezy way out. it takes time n energy to meet new ppl, get past the surface talk, get over how pissin off they r n emotionally bond wit em.thats jus the way it is. annnnnddd c)wen ur chattin with sum1 online, u don get to c their facial expressions. ppl get time to censor their thoughts, think things through n type em out.no spontaneity.plus u get to hide behind wat u wud like others to think u r as opposed to wat u actually are.
Bottom line is...jus coz u got lucky wit me doesn mean u shud make NEMORE friends online or offline. Not every1 has da patience to deal wit u.

-Oxy :D ;)

Jon said...

Hmmmm.. in online friends we have a freedom to confide things.
But doesnt that show how untrue we are in real life.
If offline frnds work out more than the real ones....then i would bet there is something wrong somewhere.

Besides there is a good possiblity that things can go wrong...since we are not equipped in judging online guys

Lets c if u continue chatting late night....wonder what R will deduce!!!

pRasad said...

Depends on the person you meet online.!

But if the person is bugging you, good thing is you can ignore him without hesitation.
But yes, to completely trust the person, you should meet him/her.

Nevertheless, you can have good time chatting online with ppl of similar kind..I had many friends from philipines ..& believe me I got to know soo much about the country, their culture....So..yeah..Online friends are something one should give a try :)

Ria said...

I totally agree with what u hav written. Even i hav met some lovely friends online, who i still talk to. :)

яノςんム said...

Hey Dhanno :D

I say Online friends or offline friends, depends on person to person :)

I have come across awesome people online. mostly through blogger and Twitter :)

and i met them online :D

Big Yes 'D

mwaaahhhh

poorni said...

Nice blog :)

In times when you can hardly believe someone who is with you, how can one believe a complete virtual stranger?

Not my type :))

Randeep said...

Online friends. Well. Not bad. Some are good. some are ok. some are bad. sometimes they hurts. sometimes they helps. I think I'm more YES to it.


Cheers
Randeep

Pooja Mahimkar said...

i once dated a guy i met online.. so well!!!

Madhu said...

i have written about this..i have not met those couple of people i have chatted with online.I still continue chattin with em..but i dont know how they might turn out to be..

Cant predict or assume anything before actually getting into it!

Gaurav Kant Goel said...

The word 'friend' is more important here than the words 'online' or 'offline'. If he or she is really a good 'friend' than it does not matterwhether he/she is 'online' or 'offline'

Anonymous said...

I have met a lot of people from online in real life. Only one (a female who portrays herself very deliberately in ways she is not) was much different in real. The others, without exception, I found were the same or better connection in real. And where sharing was great online, the added warmth of eye contact, and the casualness, made it even better.

I also was involved with a guy I met online for more than a year and a half. We got along much better than either had expected, even though we talked for many months before meeting.

On the other hand, I have known people to have deliberately misled others such as about their marital status (see any guy with lots of random facebook friends but few real, with a very girl oriented blog, or who is not using their real name and chances are they are one) so there is some common sense definitely needed to check out people you are going to meet/get involved with further.

lostworld said...

Online ones don't work for me somehow. I can make friends, but won't go that extra mile. I keep my distance as I am wary. No real reason and even though the person on the other end might not have any wicked intentions per se, I guess I just have this mental block! But I'm slowly opening up..thanks to blogs!

vicious said...

hi dhanya ...
an interesting topic ...
since i always had so many friends i never looked 4 fship online ... but as far as going out with guys was concerned i kind of had to be a lil reserved ..i too started chatting online when i was in 11th grade ...and i started chatting with a guy ..talked to him 4 2 years online , then 4 2 years on phone , then we met and all this while we were very much in love ...

it was after almost 7 years that i came to know that most of what i knew about him was pretty much an illusion .. once the trust was broken ..the shattered pieces cudnt be joined ..

its been more than a year now but i still miss him :-)

Scribbling Girl said...

Well i have met awesome friends whose first interaction was online....so i basically believe in friendship...but only truly deserving are allowed to go offline :) I made loads of online frnds but then some only went offline and it was awesome
When I entered blogging...blogging friends were an exception :D

As far love is concerned...it works if online is just medium and you work it out by meeting in real....I have dated but then they were real frnds by them ....so does works :D

amalbose said...

i dont think there isnt anything wrong with having online friends..i hav a lot n some really close ones.
as uve said, the emotional attachment is sometime better n faster with online friends

Nusrath said...

Yeah I totally agree with the BIG YES of you's :D

These days I am in touch only with the online friends.. My Offline friends.. err.. they are just living happily 'offline' :P

But it also depends on who we make as online friends.. But, truly blogger does help.. we see/read the way they right.. and come to a conclusion .. OK this person seems fine and we add them in gtalk/facebook and our friendship grows.. But, this doesn't apply to all.. Some friendship breaks in between for no reason (?)! or we come to know the 'REAL' character of them..

But, I am blessed. I have all my close friends from ORKUT and blogger :) They all seem to be great so far :)

Take care Dhanno.. Nice topic :)

Gayathri said...

Well.. I've a lot of close friends who i met online... And the fun lasts even after meeting them in person.. It all depends on how you much you let others to know you,and how much you tend to poke nose on others' character..If both are in a decently accepted levels,online friends can be fun to hang out with offline as well..

Mads said...

Dhuuuuuuu u of all the people wrote on this topic :-w

Online friends rock, but not all of them....as u mentioned, they might be having a good laugh on ur sorrow or something :(

You can get close, but it's better to maintain a distance, at least for the starting phase :)

nice post dhanna :-w

Bikramjit said...

I will say a big YESSSSSS though you have to be careful of who the person is on the otherside of the line.
I have been blessed to have made such beautiful friends and I definitely vouch for it ...

a few bad things have also happened but then they can happen in real life too, people change , priorities change ...

One has to be careful but if you are lucky to find good people on net then its beauttiful ...

Sameera said...

I am not very sure of how this works out... Honestly I have always hated chat rooms for its absurdity. But, blogging gave me a altogether different picture. :)

Anonymous said...

Be careful of blogging even. One man that some here follow is a big fraud and has kept to his trickery when meeting people from online in real. With bloggers who hide behind a nom de plume, meet them only if you find out something real. If they want to add you on facebook and chat and get closer but also keep to this identity on facebook, then think very carefully about what their motives may be.

Wildflower said...

OMG, I am so happy to have come across a fellow blogger who has stayed in the middle east in the gud ol days of young times! And i use to love young times chatroom too :) I think online frnds hold a very spcl place in my life, i've just met one in person and still continue to talk to a few more..its been almost 7 years now that i know each of them. I think earlier when the whole concept of internet chatting came about people used to still be honest about themselves but now i wouldn't even dream of befriending someone from a random chatroom!

Nostalgic said...

I have my share of virtual friends, thanks to blogging. And I really feel emotionally attached to my people here, I have my complete faith in them and have confided in them like you said its way easier to jot down things rather uttering them out in real life.

I agree with Meera that friendship online or offline should be given due time to grow. Other than that, I have some amazing online friends whom I met some 7 years back on orkut and I still talk to them :)

Anyhow, this is my first time on your blog. Following you now :)

enchantinganki said...

Thats one of the hot topic i like to discuss about. And i completely agree with you.Though one should be cautious while really sharing personal information.

btw One fellow blogger just got engeged with her gtalk friend,So we can imagine the shape that networking is taking in our lives.

Mrutyunjay said...

All I know is that if I find / come across someone online, I would consider it to be the same as come across someone .. let us say interesting .. for the time being .. at a crowded station in Mumbai Central or Delhi Airport or may be on the next seat in the bus, while I am on my way to Pune.

Have an incident to narrate ... Met this sweet girl in the bus while I was on my way to Pune, somewhere last year. She was studying in Bandra (cant recall the name of the college ...vague memories). Noticed her because she was carrying a 9X M travel bag. All the way till Pune, we spoke a lot, even smiled & laughed at varied topics. So finally when I was about to get down, I just told her "See You Then". I remember the incident. I remember the face but I dont have a name, number, fb profile or anything for that matter.

Sometimes you should take a leap. All I can say is that if I like someone, meeting this person, talking / discussing / learning things from him/her or just generally having a good time ... I would make an attempt to meet that person in future. And that shouldnt be categorized "impulsive".