Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Recently I have been sensing a barrage of backlash against blogging and social media. I've heard or read several condescending comments and posts regarding the truth of relationships that have been cultivated online that may have only on only rare occasions been extended to be experienced in person. Most of this backlash has focused on these questions:
  1. Without a tangible, physical connection to someone, can you really be friends?
  2. Is it worth pursuing these friendships?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?


  1. As you know, my very best friend in life is Mrs. Bluebell. We were internet friends before we were both accepted as Bees (met on a Diamond site).

    As I've known her for five years now, due to the slight anonymity of chatting online and rarely on the phone, I was able to really be myself. There isn't a need to exaggerate because I knew that we'd be REAL LIFE FRIENDS should we ever be in close enough proximity. And if I wanted to be a decent person, I wouldn't fudge the truth because I want a person to like me for me.

    We finally met a month ago, and it was like we hadn't met online. It was like we were real life friends who just wanted to grab dinner together.

    Through my blog I have "met" a bunch of wonderful people who know the real me- I don't sugarcoat or over-dramatize my life on my blog because that's just silly. Readers see the real me, and the real way I think. On Weddingbee it was the same thing. I've made so many great friends on WB that I have never met, but consider people I can rely on for good solid advice, commiseration when I'm sad, and honest truth.

    If possible, the friends I meet in Netland are people who are more honest than my friends in real life! While I'm at work, I have the online ladies (and gents) that I can talk to or ask questions that need immediate answers, while my real life friends might not be awake yet, or are unable to talk.

    While my best friend is one I met online, I don't think there is as big of a stigma against it as there was before. There are so many ways to "talk" to someone online- chatting, twitter, facebook, blogs... it's no longer two strangers chatting on AIM!

    And heck, without the 'net, I never would have met you, or Cupcake, or Jasmine... or any of the wonderful gals I consider actual friends.

  2. I agree with Amber. I've been going through a lot of hard stuff in my "real" life lately, and I have had more support from my Internet friends (many of whom I would consider "real" friends even when they live on the other side of the country and I have never met them) than I have from my "in-person" friends. Although I don't believe that friendships that are ALWAYS and ONLY virtual are enough to keep people from feeling socially isolated, good friends that you meet online are just as valid as good friends that you meet elsewhere.

  3. I've also "met" so many people via blog comments who I know I'd totally be friends with in "real life." While I admit I don't like the tones the term "mommy blogger" is taking on (and I've never liked the word "mommy" in general), a huge majority of the blogs I enjoy most are written by other moms. I think we rock pretty hard - or at least enough that we warrant media bashing.

  4. I think that "meeting people online" is just a natural progression of the world we live in today. Honestly, I don't know what I would do without the people I have met through online communities. I don't really have friends here in Florida, so most of my interactions have to be online or on the phone in the first place. And - I talk to so many of my "online" friends more than those I had close relationships with back in college...oops. I did get a little sad yesterday after our meetup, because I know that I would be trying to hang out with more of the WB ladies if we lived near to one another!!! But, what was awesome about meeting up with everyone was the fact that it really didn't feel awkward at all...so what if we hadn't met in person before? You can build a friendship with someone without being face to face all the time! :) I think people tend to be skeptical of it only if they haven't met someone themselves.

    ***Although, I do have to say that I think it all depends on what types of communities you meet people in. For instance, there is a girl that Justin and I know who tries to meet guys on Facebook through that Farmville application. Um...I don't know so much about that???***