My post last week about the nature of blog friendship drew a lot of smart comments, adding new thoughts and ideas to my attempt to define the differences between real world and online relationships.
Some wrote that because we get to complete our thoughts without the interruptions that naturally occur in face-to-face conversation, we are better understood by and understand others more completely.
Most seemed to agree that emotional support is a component of blog friendships - especially for those who, being full-time caregivers or having moved to a new city or the busy-ness of life, haven’t the opportunity for frequent in-person visits.
We are judged on our blogs, said another, by the cogency our words and thoughts and not our physical appearance, which is similar to a comment about the variety of friends we find online. In the real world, friends tend to be of the same age group with similar interests, educational levels, backgrounds, even ethnicity and religion. Online, those definitions of ourselves don’t matter as much.
All these help further explain the closeness we feel with our blog friends. But there was one other about the greater speed with which we come to care for another. It was touched on in a comment left by Jeanne of her Cook sister blog and expanded on by cd mom at Half Changed World:
“I think in some ways my online friends...have spoiled me for in-person friendships, at least in the early, awkward, getting to know you stage. I don't have the patience for the meaningless small talk. I want people to talk about the things they're passionate about, what rocked and what sucked about their day. And people don't generally talk about those things with people they've just met.”
Exactly. It helps that many bloggers publish an About page listing their home town, what kind of work they do, their personal interests, why they're in the blogosphere and what their blog is about. But even without an About page, we bloggers skip the useless small talk that hardly anyone is good at anyway. As I remarked in the comments to cd mom:
“Whether we are agreeing, disagreeing or adding a new thought sparked by a post, we have an area of common interest as a starting point. In contrast, when we meet a new person in the real world, we fumble around about the weather or where we're from or where we went to college, etc. and there seems to be a social taboo against anything substantive in the beginning…”
Another reader reponded to cd mom with this interesting observation:
“It's not just that online friendships usually start in meaningful places, it's also that you are both doing it in a place where you feel comfortable *already*. You're at home, or at your desk at work, not negotiating territory in a neutral setting. You're doing it at your own pace…” [Kal Jones]
One blogger commenting at Half Changed World lamented that between some recently self-imposed isolation and real-world friends moving away, she is lately feeling lonely: “If only all my blog friends lived close by!” said Suzanne.
After reading all these thoughtful responses, I’d reverse Suzanne’s lament:
In cyberspace, all my blog friends live close by.