In 2007 Sheffield Hallam University did a study and stated that Internet friends are not real friends. According to them: “In order to form real, trustworthy bonds, people have to meet in person and forge ongoing personal relationships with dimension. A couple messages here or there and a shared photo album from your party do not great friends make.” However in 2011 Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project discovered that: “People who are not online have the smallest social networks, are more socially isolated, get the least amount of social support”.
I have developed numerous types of relationships online. Some are just based on random acts of kindness. Twice here at AAR people have sent me messages stating, “I have the book you are looking for and will be glad to mail it to you”. Talk about brightening my day. Others developed into e-mail relationships talking about books and then from there developed into friendship. Some of my Internet friends know more about my trials and tribulations than my co-workers and have been a great source of comfort to me.
While Internet friends may never be close friends – most American now say that they have only two friends that would loan them a large sum of money or let them crash at their place for a while – they do contribute to my well-being. They brighten my day. They read my e-mails about my joys and my sorrows, and even though I have never talked in person to these individuals I do consider them friends and I am blessed that they are in my life.
How about you, do you have Internet friends? How do they make a difference in your life?