The Value of (Social Media) Friendship

This post was inspired by a Facebook Update from the incredibly talented and completely wonderful Kristen Lamb

In the post Kristen talked about how people seem to underestimate or utterly slam Social Media friendships. Why? Is it not a real friendship if you have never met? Is it because you don’t talk on the phone or meet once a week for a run or a few drinks in the local pub on a Friday evening. Is that really how we have been taught to judge friendships by?

I was bought a drink by a friend of a friend in the pub once, about 10 years ago. I’ve neither seen nor spoken to him since, in any way shape or form, yet, but some twisted social convention I am supposed to class him as a friend but not someone who I talk to every day on Facebook / Twitter etc?

Have all all gone insane…

Ok, it’s a bad pun, but it’s Friday

Let’s take a quick look at what Friendship really means shall we

Friendship is a relationship between two people who hold mutual affection for each other.[ Friendships and acquaintanceship are thought of as spanning across the same continuum .The value of friendship is often the result of friends consistently demonstrating the following:

  • The tendency to desire what is best for the other
  • Sympathy and empathy
  • Honesty, even in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth
  • Mutual understanding and compassion; ability to go to each other for emotional support
  • Enjoyment of each other’s company
  • Trust in one another
  • Positively strong, deep, close reciprocity, mutuality — equal give-and-take between the two parties
  • The ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings and make mistakes without fear of judgment

I have read the above several times and I cannot see anything that specifically states that a friendship can only be titled as such providing that the interactions occur with all participants within a certain proximity to one another.

I can say for sure that I have had friends over the years who would fail on all or most of the points above, yet I am still to consider them friends, when I know my true social media friendships tick every box. As I hope I do in return.

Friendship is about having someone you can count one, someone you can talk to about anything, it doesn’t care about distance if you have ever met face to face. I have made numerous friends on Facebook, real friends, who have touch my life, and whose experiences I have shared in, we have laughed and cried, been up and down. I have a great deal more acquaintances, and that is the key thing. In real time face to face interactions, we can easily distinguish to others who is a friend and who is an acquaintance. Online it is that much hard, but it doesn’t matter. A real friendship doesn’t have to be advertised, because the only people who need to know about it, already do.

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6 thoughts on “The Value of (Social Media) Friendship

  1. Yes! I have been thinking about this recently too, how spooky! I totally consider you as my friend, Alex, because we have so much in common. I know this through your blog, and through our online interactions via WordPress, Twitter and Facebook, along with the odd email of course. We are penfriends, simple as that. We just don’t bother with ‘snail mail’ any more!

    1. That is exactly it Catherine, penfriends was the word I had in mind while writing the article. I had a paragraph in there with it, but took it out at the last moment. We are friends, we became friends through social media and we maintain our friendship through social media.

      I commented on Facebook that sometimes, Social Media friends are even closer than others, because we can choose those friends based around shared interests rather than in real life where friendships are often formed as a result of spending time together first. In those cases, shared interests develop as a result of the friendship rather than the other way around

  2. I have had the same online friends for over a decade, one for 12 years. Just because they can’t give me a physical hug or be hugged in the Real World doesn’t mean they’re not friends. If anything, we support each other on a more regular basis than many Real World friends would do. I think this is another case of perceptions being behind the times.

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