How Do I Know If I Know You?

August 14, 2005

What defines friendship?

I’m not getting ready to spout out something; I’d really like to know. Some people I consider friends I haven’t visited or talked with in years; others, it has been a couple of hours ago. A few people that I consider to be friends I haven’t ever met in person, yet I’m as close to them (as far as I’m concerned) as to someone that lives nearby.

Someone downplayed a friendship of mine because when I mentioned that it was a friend from online the person commented “…that can’t be considered a real friendship because you don’t really know that person.” Huh? What does the fact that this person lives a state/country/continent away have to do with friendship?

So, I put the question to you all – what defines a friendship? Does a friend have to be someone you’ve pressed palms with?

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3 Responses to “How Do I Know If I Know You?”

  1. BadBilly said

    Each of us have different criteria for defining almost everything. Caring for one another, without regard to any categorization (race, religion, geography, what have you?) is surely a good thing. I would encourage your friend to open their mind to the possibility that friendship can be defined more broadly because of advances in technology, understanding, and most of all, compassion. If only we each could count all of humanity as our friends. I hope this doesn’t seem like a naive, utopian statement, because I mean it sincerely. Your friend, BadBilly…

  2. beth said

    Some of my online friendships have been incredibly intense. I think defining friendship as “in person only” is very limiting.

    There’s often a difference between how people present themselves online, or in writing at all, and how they present themselves in person. Sometimes the in writing version is more true. Sometimes it isn’t.

    But who cares? If it works, it works.

  3. Sorry for the delay in commenting… it has been a bit hectic around here.

    I’m glad to see that y’all think about this like I do. As I’ve thought about this I realized that I have online friends and people I know only through email that I’ve known longer than people I see on a regular basis. Some of those relationships span back almost 20 years since email at Utah State University.

    I’m sure that some people aren’t like they show themselves online or via email but I don’t think that matters much. It’s their karma that needs the work, not mine.

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