|Photo credit: benowhere 3.0 on Flickr|
Given I've been online for so long, it kind of goes without saying I've made a lot of online friends along the way. And when I think about relationships in my life, it's not really surprising that I consider many people who I've met on Twitter friends.
Though the stigma about online relationships seems to be slowly fading out as meeting people online becomes the norm, there's still a pretty big crowd of skeptics out there who roll their eyes at the mention of online friends. I've heard every argument against the validity of online relationships—the claim that people are fake online, that you can't really have a relationship if you haven't met them (?), that it's not real, dangerous, not the same, etc.
Almost six years into this, though, I'm more sure than ever that online relationships can be as real and rewarding as in-person relationships. The many people who I met online and have since met in person have been equally wonderful in person, and there was something kind of comforting of knowing you've already skipped the awkward "getting to know you" stage by the time you've met. For an introvert, online spaces where you can make friends—and better, where you can make them based off mutual pre-established interests—are gold. They cut out the social anxiety that keeps many of us silent in person and smothers conversations before they have a chance to bloom.
It's online where I've been able to talk about things people in my real life surroundings wouldn't understand. It's online where I've been able to connect to a community of like-minded individuals I haven't found in my everyday life. It's online where I've made some truly wonderful friends who I'll always be grateful for.
While online relationships certainly shouldn't replace your real life friends and interactions, they're certainly wonderful to have, especially if you don't have a wide community of like-minded people in your everyday life. I love my online friends, and I'm very grateful to have them. :)
What do you think?
Are online friendships valid? @Ava_Jae shares her thoughts on why they're so important. (Click to tweet)