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Friday, January 27, 2012

Friends? What Are These "Friends" That People Talk About?

Disclaimer: The post that you're about to read is strictly a general observational post as it applies to me. You should not assume otherwise, because you know, I really want you to be my neighbor.

Hi neighbor!

I officially walked into the cyber world and started my second life as a majorly skewed life form in February 2007. I can't tell you the exact day was because I actually have no memory of that day, so the best I can do for the purposes of this post is narrow it down to the month. And for the past 5 years, I have developed all kinds of online friendships, with some becoming more concrete than others.

The odd thing about all of these online friendships is that they really stayed within their own particular cliques. In other words, some friendships that were strictly made in the chat rooms stayed in the chat rooms, some that were strictly made on Facebook stayed on Facebook and some that were strictly made in the blogs stayed in the blogs. Very rarely did they intertwine or mingle, and when they did, they stayed within own unique little clique.

Now cliquish behavior doesn't really bother me much, except when a misguided notion takes hold and the people who develop that misguided notion focus their annoyance on me. Then they proceed to act like petulant little children, in which case I deliver a good swift kick in their buttocks before severing all contact.

But I digress.

I've long ago gotten used to floating in and out of the various little cliques that have popped up from time to time in my online world, but I guess what I still find intriguing about all of these little cliques is how easily you can become out of sight/out of mind.

To whit: There are quite few people that I had carried over friendships from the chat rooms to Facebook, but as soon as I had severed my connection from Facebook, the friendships became severed as well. Same thing happened with a few fellow bloggers, in which friendships that started in the blog world and carried over to Facebook vanished the minute I waved bye-bye. No contact, no e-mail, no nothing. And to round out this trifecta, some friendships that I had made strictly on Facebook also vanished the minute I waved bye-bye.

It kind of bothers me a little that people who I had gotten to know over the past five years chose not to maintain contact with me after I had left the chat rooms and Facebook. I don't think its because those people are shallow, but quite the contrary its because they have a serious case of tunnel vision. People are so heavy into Facebook/Twitter nowadays that it's often hard for them to fathom/understand/deal with someone who happens not to be into that whole Facebook/Twitter thing.
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We interrupt this post to point out to you a blinding case of the obvious: the post has ended.

In all seriousness, I had a major problem in trying to write the rest of this post once I had finished the 6th paragraph. How serious? Well, for one thing, this post was in draft mode for a little over a week, as I kept moving the publishing date around in an attempt at coming up with a way to finish it.

However, try as I might, I couldn't finish it. Every attempt at continuing the post failed because I kept going back to that 6th paragraph and saying to myself, "You finished the post. Why are you torturing yourself by trying to add more words?"

Yeah, right. I actually used a few select adjectives while yelling at myself, so what you read is the movie G-rated version of what I was saying.

Since I can't come up with a decent continuation of the idea that is the root of this post, which is about certain online friendships that ultimately last as long as you participate in a particular area of the CyberWorld, the next best thing I can come up with is a question.

Do you have online friendships that are strictly confined to the particular forum/social media that you use? Or do those online friendships cross over into other types of social media, or even into the real world? Or have some of your online friendships vanish because you're no longer participating in the forum(s) that you had first met them?

21 comments:

  1. I don't do Facebook or Twitter so the on-line friends I have are all connected to my blog. That suits me just fine because really I haven't got the time to expand my on-line friendships anyway. I'd rather know a few people well, than know loads superficially.

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  2. I had to actually look, but I have 208 facebook friends and know all of them personally, except for a couple of food bloggers.

    But I like to think of all my blogging friends as actual friends I haven't met. If I stopped blogging, I am certain that the friendships I've formed with three of them would continue.

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  3. Interesting I never visited blogs 10 years ago, I would just chat. Now I dont chat at all and just visit blogs. That will probably end too.

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  4. I do, and at times folks have fallen out of those groups. I have often sent one or two questing emails or made comments, but I do also feel like folks have a right to disappear if they want to so maybe they'd prefer to be left alone. Hard to know exactly what to do.

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  5. Interesting post. As an author, I have a lot of people I interact with on Facebook or blogger, but I wouldn't call them 'friends', especially because most of them live on another continent. It's like having small-talk with a neighbour, but never asking them to go to the movies with you.

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  6. Yep to both. I have 'friends' who I've 'met' blogging that crossed over to Facebook before I did. It was the only way to stay in touch was joining. It was okay as I found myself in a bit of a blogging lull anyway. Now I'm finding myself fed up with Facebook yet holding on to a connection there just to keep in touch with a number of people. I understand people having a preferred social media but to exclude nice people from your circle just cause they don't. WTH? We can never have too many friends in our everyday life.

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  7. Joe: That makes sense. When I was on Facebook, my circle was kept deliberately small because I wanted to stay friends with people that I've already known for the past several years.

    Even though I've retreated to the blogs, the same rules still apply.

    Lynn: I consider most, if not all, of the bloggers that I've met in the past four years the same way.

    I think that when you blog, you can get to know a person on a level that you can probably never reach while on Facebook.

    Bearman: To be honest, I'd never heard of blogs or blogging until a cyber friend of mine suggested it back in 2008.

    After experiencing the vitriol of the chat rooms and the vapidness of Facebook, this will more likely be the permanent online home for me.

    And I wouldn't have it any other way.

    Charles: I've had a few like that while I was in the chat rooms, but I really used to experience that kind of stuff on Facebook.

    As for the blogs, I do send out the occasional e-mail just to check up on an absent blogging buddy, just to make sure they're alright.

    But with my friends here in CT, I try to respect their desires/wishes for that bout of privacy as much as I can.

    Vanessa: Thanks for stopping by to comment.

    Interesting point of view. I've never really considered that kind of casualness before, but I suppose that interacting with online "friends" is pretty much like making small talk with your neighbors or with certain co-workers that you see on a weekly basis.

    Jeanne: This is true, you can never have too many friends in our everyday life.

    But like I said, I am disappointed that those who were in my circle of friends/acquaintance from the chat rooms and Facebook chose not to maintain contact once I decided to leave.

    And when I left Facebook, it's not like I just simply vanished. I gave everyone at least a two week notice before deciding to leave.

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  8. Hey George, yes, that' where I feel bad too is the lack of staying in touch after. I have friends such as yourself you primarily blog and leave FB alone, it's not any stretch to check in and leave a comment here and there even if you don't blog. It's quite easy and as you said email. RYC: I had to have surgery on my elbow for a pinched nerve. Too much computer time lol.

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  9. I don't do FB or Twitter either...a few people (like you) have become friends because I met them on a blog, but I'd stay friends even if I didn't blog. That was an unexpected side benefit of blogging.

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  10. Jeanne: I try to keep in touch with some of my former FB friends but it's been a uphill battle to say the least, mostly because some either don't do e-mail or just don't want to be bothered.

    It is what it is, I guess.

    Pinched nerve? Wowzers.

    At least you're getting a mini-vaca from work, with pay I hope.

    M: Never understood the value of Twitter, but I know of some people who won't touch FB with a ten foot pole but will do Twitter.

    I don't quite think it's unexpected. Blogging is about the closest thing you can come to an equivalent of a good co-worker without going overboard.

    As the saying goes, being with your co-workers is almost like having a second family, so being a blogger is almost like having a third family sometimes.

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  11. I meant for me personally, it was an unexpected side benefit, since I literally started blogging to get rants off my chest. Proverbial chest. You get the point, I'm going to quit while I'm ahead!

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  12. M: Of course I get the point. :D

    Seriously though, I started blogging because someone who's opinion I respected in the cyber world (after we had patched things up) suggested I move myself to the blog world to avoid censorship issues.

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  13. I think many friendships wax and wane even in "real life"- you move house or the kids change school and your circle of friends inevitably changes even though you may carry forward a few close relationships. In many cases I don't think it is a deliberate thing - people just have too many things going on to explore other social media avenues. I have no intention of expanding Facebook and I don't do twitter. I'm happy with with just my blog and the odd email from time to time. I have now actually met two of my blog friends in the UK and one who was visiting from Australia- Oh and that include The Hamster (who is as funny in real life as on his blog!)

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  14. Jane: I agree that many friendships wax and wane. The problem with some of my online friendships is that they vanished through abnormal means. A sly word here, an accusation there, and poof! no more frienships.

    The real world ones have for the most part, been pretty good over the years to me.

    And like you, I have met a couple of my online friends (now ex) in the past four years, and I'm planning to meet a third later this year.

    It was pretty cool when I did meet those people and I'm hoping it will be the same when I meet the third.

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  15. Most of my online are on blogger, I have a few on forums. But mostly blogger. One or two came from twitter and then moved to blogger, it all boils down to the blog, if you can't tell yet..haha Facebook used to use the stupid thing, but cut all contact off with that crap, never had much of a circle on it though, junk.

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  16. Pat: The main reason as to why I left FB was all the changes that they were making to their privacy rules.

    I know Google is doing the same thing, but at least with Google you can control your privacy levels. Facebook doesn't give you any real options for doing so.

    And like you, most of my online friends now originate and are maintained exclusively in the blog world.

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  17. If I based my online friendships on my blog, I'd probably need a shrink, because all but just two or three folks that used to regularly comment have disappeared. I can go days and days without responses to twitter posts, and Facebook is much the same. I don't spend much time on either of those, though, so it isn't that big of a deal. I have many friendly acquaintances online who have busy lives, and a handful of folks that I've either met in person that I consider "real" friends, or that I have engaged with enough that I would make an opportunity to meet if I could.

    One thing about Facebook and twitter, is the format changes often make it difficult to keep up if you don't learn how to really get the most out of using the application. I generally don't take the time to do that. So I miss a lot, and probably AM missed by others for the same reason. If something doesn't come up in the 5 or 10 minutes I spend looking at my feed, I'll miss it. Take Charles Gramlich there. This is a guy I consider a friend in the truest sense, as we have met in person. I read every one of his blog posts, and often comment. But I almost never see what he posts on Facebook. Unless I actively look for it.

    I prefer blogs. I enjoy the heck out of them, and I love my Google reader feed. I also really like Tumblr. It is my favorite of all the social media sites.

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  18. Chris: I agree with pretty much your entire comment.

    Facebook is not as user friendly as it was back in '09 and it's one of many reasons as to why I have vacated.

    I don't do Twitter, simply because I don't have the kind of time or hardware (i.e. one of those new cell phones) needed to properly participate.

    I prefer blogs as well, simply because it's the best way to really, I think, to get to know someone.

    I haven't expored Tumblr yet and I've basically abandoned my Google reader for the RSS feeds, but I have fun searching for blogs just the same.

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  19. It's funny -- with my blog, Facebook, AND in "real life," my circles of friends are quite small. I'm an extremely shy person, so I'm used to people not sticking around for too long (most people aren't patient enough to hang out with me long enough for me to "break out of my shell"). That probably sounds sort of pathetic, but it actually doesn't always bother me -- because it means that the people who ARE my friends are REAL friends. The kind who stick with you no matter what. I figure if someone thinks I'M worth keeping around, then they're worth keeping around, too... :)

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  20. I actualy find myself cut-off from important family news because I'm not on Facebook!

    I've been blogging so long I've stayed while others dropped out in waves. It definately feels like being abandoned, even tho it certainly shouldn't be taken personally, for each has a reason they stop, n it's not you.

    It does feel good being in a group of folks participating, n it always sucks when it ends-

    Tumblr kept crashing my machine, btw. Tougher to find good bloggers there, n commentors, I think. MB moved back to blogger after trying it. I still have an open acct there n will post again when time alows n pics are numerous- but can't comment on this computer there.

    Some folks I will always consider real friends, even if contact slows down. Some send me snail mail, email, or call on the phone even tho they stopped online publishing stuff.

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  21. Lisa: Believe it or not, in spite of appearances to the contrary, I am someone of a private person. Not so much shy but more to the point that it takes me forever and a day to open up to people.

    So I have a tendency to be very picky as to who I let into my private little circle, so to speak.

    My circle on Facebook (42) was actaully pretty large for me as my real world cricle you can count on one hand. As for my Blogger circle, that you can count on two hands. Whereas some bloggers I do like to keep in contact with on their blogs, there are a couple where I go one step further and e-mail from time to time.

    Snaggle: Some of my family is on Facebook, but we still get our family news the old fashioned way, via the telephone.

    I haven't explored other blogging mediums such as Tumblr or WordPress, simply because I'm such a stickler for brand loyalty, no matter what that brand may be.

    As for people dropping out, yeah, I've experienced that. Some of the people who I'd met back in '08 basically vanished by mid-'09. I used to take it personal, but now I realize that some people either chose to move on to another forum, or the real world needed more attention than the Cyber World.

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Go on, give me your best shot. I can take it. If I couldn't, I wouldn't have created this wonderful little blog that you decided to grace with your presence today.

About that comment moderation thingy: While yes, it does say up above I can take it, I only use it to prevent the occasional miscreant from leaving thoughtless and/or clueless comments.

So remember, all of your comments are greatly appreciated and all answers will be given that personal touch that you come to expect and enjoy.

G. B. Miller

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