Friendship in the age of technology

Some people see the influence of technology as a bad thing in the light of friendship. I understand that friendship can never been as easy as an instant message and that people can be followed, un-followed, de-friended easily and this can make the whole thing seem superficial and lacking in the effort face to face relationship require. I still think that meaningful contact can be had with people.

I have been chatting on an on-line parenting forum for almost 5 years and there are woman on there whom I have never met and yet we have shared the best and worst that life has to offer, we have been through deaths, births, marriages, divorces and the enormous joys and heart aches that come from being a parent. These ladies most who have never met me, helped me raise money when I ran the comrades for another mom on the forum who little foster daughter needed ARV’s. These women supported me through my decision to have an unassisted birth with my son, they many not have always agreed or understood my choice but the love and encouragement and excitement with which they followed my labour was heart warming.

I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the ladies in really life and yes it does make the friendship deeper and add a whole new level to them, but even those I may never meet I feel a closeness to a real friendship.

I recently joined twitter and again I have been bowled over by people’s kindness. I have had people sit up ALL night, when they have to be up early for work the next day, to help me fix my broken website. I am a stranger yet people have reached across and surpassed the superficial contact that the web allows and have put real effort in to helping me. More I might say than some friend who I have known in person for many years.

Technology helps me stay in touch with friend overseas whom I otherwise would have very little contact with. Is it the same as sitting with a cup of vanilla rooibos together and support one another through the worst heartaches ever? – no, but it gives us the chance to ‘meet’ on line and exchange meaningful support so that when we do see each other we can just pick right up where we left off.

Forums and social networking also bring you in contact with people and ideas that you might never have normally had if you remained in your own little world. I have met people that I know would not have been in my friend circle was it not for the web, these people have challenged me and sometimes changed my mind and other times helped me believe in something stronger through meaningful debate and exchange of ideas.

The idea that technology cheapens friendship is not true for me. And while there is no substitute for a face to face chat and the layers expression and emotion that are not possible on line, I think how you treat friends on line and off is just an extension of what you would have done anyway. Human nature does not change just because technology advances. I mean even before technology friendships required effort. Maybe it seems easier to be superficial on line but I think if you do it on line you more than likely are the same in person.

I have been touched deeply by people I have never met and classify many of them as real true friends.