- Without a tangible, physical connection to someone, can you really be friends?
- Is it worth pursuing these friendships?
- Are people who trust relationships they have created online 'loners' for investing what small amount of personal time they have in the online exploits of creating 'friendships' with people they have never actually met?
- Can these 'friendships' be considered 'real'?
I find it really interesting that my first reaction to this backlash is always pretty defensive. I know who I am and I am confident in my place in the on-line world and I have rich and engaging relationships in 'real life' that are not suffering because I have 'another life' online. But I do question why I feel the need to get defensive. I mean, if I were totally confident, I theoretically wouldn't need to be defensive, right?
But I do think that part of my defensive reaction is based on the respect I have now for the isolation of motherhood. Being able to quickly connect with someone online is a very grounding experience when the only interaction you have truly gotten in the course of the day is with a teething, drooling, combative toddler and all your 'real friends' (including your partner) are at work. Motherhood definitely needs to be defended, because the start of it is one of the most tumultuous, isolating, confidence-destroying times of a woman's life and if we don't defend it, it will continue to be beaten down and stereo-typed until we are all walking around apologizing for having children and ruining the days of all the naysayers.
However, I wouldn't necessarily say that only mothers can benefit from communities found within social media and the internet without being labeled as dysfunctional loners who crave social interactions via non-physical relationships. As in all facets of life, there are always going to be exceptions, but there are plenty of people with plenty of backgrounds and life experiences who are able to acquire and maintain healthy relationships both online and in person. We shouldn't have to be on the defense if we are able to trust ourselves in our abilities to cultivate relationships.
The important piece here is trust. Trust (whether it be on-line or in person) in the goodness of relative strangers and, more importantly, in yourself to be able to assess the value of any relationship. Because if you can't trust yourself to do that, perhaps your issue isn't what other people are getting out of online relationships, but rather what you are missing in your own life.
I'm pretty sure I'm preaching to the choir here, but figured I would ask; What's your take on this?