Social Media Friends

Or as my wife calls them, "Fake Friends"

Yes, you read that correctly. “Fake Friends”

In a time now past, my wife identified my online friends as “fake friends”.

Why? Why would she do this? And more importantly, to me anyway, was she correct in identifying hundreds of people I interacted with online as being “fake”?

Good question. And then one day we met some of them in person at a conference in Nashville. Suddenly these people had faces and voices and full bodies instead of simply a profile pic. These online personalities were suddenly real people. Face to face conversation occurred.

Michelle D and Rick 2015-05-12 13.57.05 Ethan Bryan David Clay Rick Nashville Courtyard Crew Nashville

Is that what makes online relationships real? Face to face personal contact?

Or, can an online relationship be true friendship without ever meeting in person. Does 2D need to become 3D or IRL (In Real Life) before a friendship has validation?

I’m going to argue for a “no” answer to the question.

Some of my best friends only exist in online interactions. Without ever meeting in person, I have developed incredibly solid friendships with dozens of people.

As of this moment, I have 1,632 “Friends” on Facebook.

Undoubtedly I don’t interact daily with each of them. But, there are a few I interact with every single day and I would miss them if a day went by without touching base with them.

I know some of you don’t think online friends can be true friends.

I know others of you would fade into the background of life if not for your online friends.

I also know how much joy I have when I get to meet one of these online friends in person.

Deep, deep, personal relationships have been developed online. I thank God everyday for these relationships. I can’t imagine my life without these people. I can’t imagine not having the interaction, the community, the family.

A year ago my best friend moved to South Carolina. I miss him. We’ve known each other for over 36 years. We’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve not talked to each other for months on end because one of us was stupid, which turned into both of us being stupid, but we always came back together.

I miss not being able to have breakfast with him on a morning I need him or he needs me.

But now he’s in South Carolina. How do we continue?

We become online friends.

It still takes work. Lots of work. Intentional work. The exact same work an in-person, 3D, IRL friendship takes.

And now I need to admit, I need to put in more work. I need to be intentional with my now 2D, online friend. He moved away, but in this age of technology we don’t need to move away from our almost 4 decade friendship.

So, Eric? Expect an email, or a Facebook message, or a text, or a Skype request.

That’s what I’m going to do. Be intentional. Online.

What are you going to do?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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29 thoughts on “Social Media Friends

  1. Great post, and I am so thankful to count you among friends. And, my picture with you came before Clay or D$’s, and that’s what really matters here. 😂 (Just kidding)

  2. 90% of my friends are online. And yes my wife called them fake until I went to Launch Out in Nashville and my wife saw most of the friends she thought were “fake”.

    I also need to interact with my online friends more, other then just commenting on there pages.

    • I’m glad my wife wasn’t the only one. 🙂
      Interaction online can be tricky though. When does it become too much? Is too much even possible?

  3. Well said, I too had the spouse that was a bit leary of all these Internet friends. Many will remain a mystery, however blessed to know the ones I do that I can call my real friends too.

  4. Great post Rick! My wife, who is not on any social media, refers to my FB friends as my imaginary friends. But there are some that I interact more then I do my IRL friends.

  5. I’ve heard many say that online friends aren’t real but I don’t agree with them. Many of my online friends have been there for me in good times and bad, to celebrate, and to comfort. I check in with some daily and honestly miss them when we don’t get a chance to chat. They are a very real part of my life.

    • With the ability to communicate “instantly” and to actually see people using things like Skype and Google Hangouts, it makes online friends much more real. Plus, most of the time, they “get it”.

  6. Love this Rick. Great post. My best friends started as online friendships. Inevitably I’ve made the time to meet most of those people I talk to daily…. but in many cases, only once. If it weren’t for the internet I’d go days with out talking to anyone. #smallbusinesslife 😉

    • Yep. Now that I work from home, I find these relationships even more important. And when I get to see my online friends in person, it’s like we always had an in-person friendship.

  7. My husband at least acknowledges the existence of these people by calling them acquaintances. I told him I don’t hug family members as much as I hug some of these people. #D$AllTheHugs!

    One of the many reasons I send snail mail, is because it’s tangible and helps the friendships be more tangible as well.

  8. I appreciate your thoughts here, Rick. I miss you as well. I wonder, though, about the depth of intimacy through 2D friendships? Video helps but, to me, lacks a certain “presence.” I won’t argue online because, I think that is one of the drawbacks of discussing things online – the ability to hear and see nuances of the conversation – which is vital to maintaining good relationships. I may be alone in this but those are my thoughts. I look forward to catching up with you even though it will have to be via video. 😉

    • And now I’m wondering how friendships fare going from 3D to 2D? I’m well versed in the opposite equation, this is a new situation. Hmm…I guess we’re going to find out!

    • And neither of you should be surprised to find I agree with Eric a bit in regards to this. I have a feeling it will be a bit different because you have history, but I do think because we can censor so much about ourselves online (“So Much Better Online” anyone?)….it’s never going to be the same. I’d agree with the concept of “presence” and also add censoring. I see the benefits in a case that you gents are in – friends (or family) that you simply cannot have a physical connection with. However, I do think that forming relationships this way cold turkey (as in, I’ve never met you but we both like beans so let’s be friends)…for many – whether they admit it or not – it’s because it’s safe. Requires less time. Or it sucks time that should be spent elsewhere.

      I”m glad you’ve found connections – in the olden days, however, we called this ‘networking’ because it was born out of similar trade/business interests.

      • Re: Time
        I agree the amount of time put into an online friendship can be more controlled (I can leave when I want to), but I would say developing a deep and lasting relationship online requires the same time as in person. How much I want to put into the relationship is up to me. Going deep is sometimes easier online because the face-to-face aspect inhibits some people. And, how do I know my in-person friends are sharing the truth of their lives? And, all friendship can suck time away from more important tasks, and family.

  9. Most people I know don’t understand my relationships with my internet friends. Honestly, most days I don’t know what I would do without all of you. My most supportive friends are my internet friends. You are the ones who push me to move forward with my business, keep me going when I just want to crash out in the afternoon, check in on me when I am not feeling well or am having a bad day, and make me laugh just when I need it most.

  10. I’m honored to be one of your “fake friends” Rick. It got to the point for me where it was too many and too much in the context of the larger group where we first met. But I have intentionally stayed friends with a select few and I am grateful for each and every one of you.