Thursday 24 May 2012

Thought Picnic: My Virtual Friends Are NOT Insignificant

Yes I will
Recently, I got involved in a Facebook conversation that was inspired by an article published in the Guardian titled, Should one attend the funeral of a 'virtual friend'? | Edward Collier.
The writer had found out that someone he enjoyed interacting with by reason of their mutual love of cricket had passed on. He shared how their virtual friendship had developed, his liking for his friend and the fact that he will definitely miss his friend before erring on the side of caution and his perception of social mores in deciding that he will not attend such a funeral.
I read the views expressed on the shared Facebook status and then added mine that appears below.
Virtual but not insignificant
There are many friends I have made online that I would definitely want to meet and if sadly I learnt of their passing and found that all that knew my friend were invited to attend the wake, the funeral or some memorial service, I will be there to pay my respects.
Through blogging for almost 9 years, on Twitter for 3 years and now on Facebook for over 2 years, I have connected with people who have gone the extra mile with me especially when I wrote from hospital almost 3 years ago that I had cancer and other struggles post-cancer - I got notices of support, flowers, visits, money and much more from so-called virtual friends.
Virtual they might seem but hardly insignificant, social media just provides another channel of interaction and we have to begin to recognise that it might not conform to traditional roles and norms of friendship but we relate, we communicate and some aspect of life is done with these people - just like with typical friendships, depending on depth of relationship, I will attend and hope that I have made a similar impact on them too to be willing to attend my funeral too.
Be touched and make real friends
There probably is not much else to add to this comment apart from stressing that my virtual friends are not insignificant, I have met quite a few people who started off as virtual friends and besides, I have made other friends through these virtual friends and established bonds of affinity that are just as enduring as those of traditional friendships.
It is important that we realise like I said in my comment that new ways of interaction will create new interrelationships that we can develop, grow and nurture. I believe we will be poorer for it if all we think are good friends are only the people we have physically met whilst at the same time we have literally poured our lives, our time and every valuable resource online into virtual friends and failed to make those beneficial and worthwhile.
On the strength of my comment, I made a new friend, on Facebook, we touch each other with every expression of our lives and we are enriched by actual, virtual or incidental friends. In other words, make the best of whoever you encounter and you can be assured of the best of friendships. That is my story.

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