“You have online friends. How sad are you!”

There was a time when I thought online friends were a figment of the imagination of sad people who had no real life. I could not understand a relationship which was acted out online. Facebook friends were a joke to me, and I was judgemental of those who used online dating sites.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/181836178/">Kris Krug</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Then I began to blog and “met” quite a number of fellow bloggers who became my “friends”. They were there to comfort and support me, to laugh and cry with me, and to support me when I most needed it.

Occasionally I have lost a friend. Unlike in everyday life, I cannot trace these friends. They just disappear. I wonder about them, sometimes I worry about them and often I think about them.

Last year I lost one such a friend. From early on in my writing I had enjoyed this blogger enormously. His writing was special. He had a haphazard routine of posting but everything he posted was worth reading. I hoped he was well. Sometimes when I wrote something I would think how much he would have enjoyed it, and missed his comments. Happily I had other “friends” so blogging continued to be fun, but I did miss him.

Then tonight he came back!
He has a new blog, and I am hoping he is back to stay.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmrosenfeld/3243229066/">JMR_Photography</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

I will not share his blog just yet, for fear I frighten him away. Suffice to say “Welcome back friend”. You may be “just” an online friend, but tonight I am greatly cheered up to know you are back.

As I write this tonight I have come to realise just how much each one of you mean to me. My Irish Parenting Bloggers who are a great source of information and fun. Duncan from madhatters who was one of my first “friends”, Chattermaster from The chatter blog who is a kindred spirit, for Ksbeth from I didn’t have my glasses on who is so supportive always, Opinionatedman who always takes the time to reply even though he is now a megablogger, multifarious meanderings who has been a “friend” for quite some time, Soup to nuts who is one of my most regular commentors. and to others such as twindaddy who are relatively new “friends”.

As I try to acknowledge my “friends” here I realise how many of you there are who I have not mentioned, I do hope you can forgive me. I have not even touched on those who are not bloggers, but who read my words on facebook. They too have become my “friends”. I am so sorry not to mention each one of you, but please be assured I love you reading and sharing your life and mine online.

So tonight I want to publicly acknowledge that I have online friends. And each one of them is important to me. I am that sad person I mocked a year ago, and my life is greatly enriched as a result. A year ago I could never have imagined so many would sign up to read what I write. To those who comment regularly I say thank you, but equally I thank all those who quietly read what I write.

As for my old pal, welcome back my friend, I missed you!

photo credit: Kris Krug via photopin cc
photo credit: JMR_Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: HckySo via photopin cc

36 thoughts on ““You have online friends. How sad are you!”

  1. I used to feel the same way. I now have a chronic illness and am alone much of the time. I love my online friends. I have built relationships that I couldn’t have built in “real life.”
    I enjoy your blog and how real you are in what you write. Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much. I can only imagine what a lifeline blogging is when you are less well. It is similar to when parents have young children, online friends can greatly reduce the isolation.

      1. I just started blogging and I’m really enjoying it! There’s no real “theme” to my blog. Just a hodgepodge of whatever is on my mind the most on a particular day.
        I judge myself pretty harshly though and delete a lot of what I write. I’m getting better at just putting it out there though and not worrying too much about the reaction. I tried my hand at satire for the first time today.
        Anyway, thanks for the response. It’s a slow, in bed day for me today and I’m ridiculously bored. lol

        1. I’m so sorry you’re not well, but it is great you have found this outlet. It can be very boring I’m sure for you.

    1. Oh not in a million years would I have understood online friendships and as I say I was more than a little judgmental about them.
      I have learned how wrong I was, in fact sometimes I can share something with an online friend that I might find difficult to do with anyone else.

      1. Same here! Part of it is probably down to the fact that blogging allows us to get to know people’s mindsets and inner-workings through their writing and kindred spirits emerge that way.

        1. Yes I totally agree. You can get to know people online on a very different level than you do your “real” friends.

  2. I used to be just like this too. I was very critical of those who had online friends, always wondering “What’s the point?” Now I know. Through blogging, I have made so many wonderful ‘friends’ who I laugh with, cry with and even debate with. Then there are those like you mentioned, you disappear. Some of them I wonder about and others I worry about, due to the posts prior to their disappearance. I hope they are all doing well and I hope to one day see them again. I’m glad to hear that your ‘friend’ is back!

    1. This past year my online friends have greatly enhanced my life experiences, and I consider myself very lucky to have them, yourself included.
      I never thought he’d come back so I am delighted. It’s like the continuing of a chapter.

  3. I was recently telling a friend that with blogging I feel as if I’m a writer among writers, that I fit, that we blend. And that is why I blog and don’t much facebook…Glad I’m not alone in feeling this way…

  4. What a wonderful shout out about friends. I was THRILLED to be shouted out to! And I related to this post. Often I think about people I’ve met here. If I don’t see them ‘on line’ I send a note if they have an open email. Or comment on an old post just to say hi. And I have had many reach out to me. It’s a wonderful thing we do. I think the sharing of our thoughts and ideas are possibly even more open in some situations when we sit here and have ONLY our words to connect with.

    Great post Tric. And I’m glad your friend returned.

    1. Yes I agree, in a way we know our online friends better in some ways than those we have spent actual time with.
      I know of one online buddy who had cancer. Her blog is now on private and I am fairly sure the news is good. It’s just sad that I will never know.
      Glad you enjoyed it “my friend”.

      1. πŸ™‚ I did friend.

        And I hope your friend is doing well. It is difficult to just see people “disappear”. We always hope it’s because life is busy and happy. But we know sometimes that isn’t the case.

  5. what a post, tric and i think i can speak for all of your friends out here in the blog world, it is our pleasure to have ‘met’ you. thanks for the mention, i’m glad my support has been helpful to you, i feel like we’ve had some shared experiences in life, both good and bad, and am happy to know you. best always, beth

    1. Thanks Beth. Yes our shared experiences have definitely drawn us towards online friendship. As a result I enjoy your posts as they resonate with me, and look forward to your comments.

  6. I’ve only just discovered your blog, but I’m really enjoying it so far. Now I’m excited to take a look at the other blogs you mention! I started blogging a few months ago, and the most surprising thing to me has been the community (it does feel like one) of online bloggers. I had no idea.

    1. Yes I think I can imagine you would not have been the most understanding of online friendships before you fell into blogging. It has been a happy unexpected byproduct of blogging for me.

  7. Finally Tric comes out! Seriously, I agree with what you have written above, though initially my view would also have been along the lines of ‘sad’. Thank you MM πŸ€

  8. my online friends are very important to me, too, tric.

    it was they who were most supportive and helped me through the difficult time while Anita battled lung cancer and the dark days after she died

    more so than ‘real’ friends and family

    yes, everyone said call us any time, day or night if you want some company or someone to talk to but I never did – who really wants to be awoken from bed in the early hours of the morning by a phone call or a knock at the door?

    but because of different time zones, no matter when I was at my most low, there was always an online friend around

    and I could be more open and honest about my feelings with online friends than with ‘real’ friends.

    in real life, I had to be the strong one to support everyone else when they were grieving over the loss of their mum (we have two boys), their sister, their aunt, their gran, their friend

    only with online friends could I afford the luxury of exposing my own feelings !

    madhatters is a very different site now compared to when it started. In the beginning, it was primarily a ‘chat room’ attracting thousands of comments a day. [The blog posts were initially just something myself and ‘noseycow, put up to add a bit more interest to the site] In the end, it was too successful – people liked the online friends they made in our chat room so much they befriended each other on Facebook and moved there, leading to the demise of the chat room 😦

    one of the regular visitors to the chat room – a very witty lady, wrote to me privately to thank me for setting up madhatters. She explained she suffered from a degenerative neurological condition, was in constant pain, largely housebound, and as a result saw few people but through the chatroom she now felt she had ‘friends’ and felt less alone in the world. It was a lovely letter

    real and online friends are each important – sometimes what we really need is just someone to hold us, to give us a hug, but online friends are often more approachable/available and can sometimes give us what real friends can’t

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Last year the support I felt through the roller coaster of Dans leukemia was so helpful. It was the “always available” and the “willing to listen” that was great to have day or night.
      Wow I’d love to have known madhatters in the old days, sounds brilliant.
      I also agree that different friends provide different support. I must admit I really enjoy my online buddies.

  9. I am trying to think of what the job of a friend is. To be there, simply. To advise, dry the occasional tear and hold you when you need it. I believe words can do that. They can inspire, dry the eyes with humor and laughter. They can curl around your heart and inject just what is needed for the moment. Your words do that, To many it seems, and I am happy to know you as a friend πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Mocha. I think online or in real life, you have the qualities to be a good friend. I am sure you also have many who were there for you when needed.

  10. Hey Tric. You’ve definitely touched on something here. I actually feel guilty if I don’t get round to reading or commenting on my favourite blogs within a few days, especially when they’re so committed to their blogs. What I’m getting a thrill out of, is seeing the bloggers I follow connect with each other. It feels more like a little community now.

    1. Ha I know how you feel. My number of followers has really risen so it can be hard to keep up, and I hate falling behind with comments. However once in a while I get to sit down and go back in time in my reader and “catch up” on all I have missed, or at least some of it.

      1. You’re very good to respond like you do. My wee blog is no hassle. I’m thrilled when I get a comment!
        I feel bad if I seem to disappear and miss a few posts here and there, especially when people put so much of themselves into a post. I know some bloggers who are struggling with personal issues. They’re just reaching out and need a little support and a high-five now and then.

  11. Most of my friends are online, I find it awkward and exhausting to socialise in “real life” (I still do cause I know it’s good for me) but online socialising is so much more relaxing and enjoyable and it’s easy “meet” people who have the same interests πŸ™‚

    1. Yes it is an easy way to “be” with people. I like the variety of people I meet here, and the small insight we get into other lives.

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