Monday, June 3, 2013

Online Friends: They're Real To Me.

I was browsing CNN today during my break at work this afternoon when the headline "When a Facebook Friend Dies" caught my attention. I thought the article was going to discuss proper etiquette for those of us who use social media. Like many of us, I struggle with knowing what to say when there are no words that can truly provide comfort. I had to read the article.

Frida Ghitis writes about online friendships and the assumption that online friends can't possibly be real friends. She says, "I have often used quotation marks in the past when referring to a Facebook "friend" with more than a touch of sarcasm. Are Facebook connections really friends?"

Yep, I've used that sarcasm before. I used to roll my eyes when people talked about meeting friends online. How could you possibly know them? How can you form such an emotional connection with someone you've never met? Then I met my Mole-Mates.

While I will never have the opportunity to meet every single friend I've made in the melanoma community, I cherish their friendship. I enjoy hearing about their celebrations, their joy, their lives. My heart aches for them when life doesn't go as they wanted. They are friends to me in ways that some of the people I see on a daily basis will never be.

Ghitis explains it well, "Online, people express themselves with a special openness. They don't have to wait their turn to speak, and the ones with small voices or introverted personalities can convey big, profound, touching emotions. Online we can develop a kind of intimacy that eluded us in the nonvirtual world. On social media, we can share -- as Jim so often did -- big and small parts of our life, without worrying that others are too busy or simply not interested in hearing it."

These friendships built online saved me from the big scary unknown, Melanoma, and I'm grateful for them every single day.

Read the article.


Strong Steph said...

You're RIGHT Chelsea! I definitely feel happiness and sadness for all my melahomies online!

Martha Hokenson said...

It's really true that your online friends can be just as real, if not more so, than your "real life" friends!!