Thursday, April 5, 2012

Digital Friends

Good morning to you my fellow web surfers. I hope that the day has found you well and that your morning has started off on the brighter side of things. I was sitting here in class, staring blankly at my screen, next to my good friend the Critical Stranger and began to think about my other friends. I have many friends here in the city of Halifax and many more in my home town of Yarmouth. Still there are a few more spread across this great country of ours, Canada. These are not the friends I want to talk to you about. No. I want to talk to you about my digital friends.

What are digital friends? I use this term to dub all the people I have come to know over the internet but have never met in real life; physically; face to face; in person. Friends who have come to mean a very great deal to me; some more than friends I have spent much of my life knowing. The first thing you need to remember is that despite never having met some of them face to face, they are still people and thus, as people, we can relate to one another; even through the impersonal view of a computer monitor.

How do my digital friends differ from my real life friends? Overall they do not. When I have problems I need to discuss or if I am feeling particularly down about something I can contact my digital friends to bring me the same comfort that I might receive from being around my physical friends. When something wonderful has occurred or some great happiness has reached me, I will also seek out my digital friends to share with them and relish in the joy of the moment with them.

But you haven't met them before, how can you call them friends? That is an excellent question that I am glad and almost certain some of you are asking; I would be happy to clear this misconception for you. Digital friends and physical friends both share a common thread: friends. A friend is someone who is there to support you through good times and bad times; a friend is someone who will lend an ear when you need to vent; a friend will be understanding and honest with you; a friend is someone who cares about your well-being and success; inversely a friend is someone to whom you feel these things as well. All of these things are attainable and discoverable even without meeting someone face to face.

IRC: David 'Zidane'
Since the onset of what I consider to be the digital age (about 1995ish) and then the internet age (about 2000ish) our perceptions on communications have been extremely altered. Ever had a pen pal (for those who might be too young to remember a pen pal is someone you wrote letters back and forth to just to communicate with new people.)? A pen pal is the 80s version of what I call a digital friend; it is the closest metaphor I can think of. With all these new methods of instant communication we have simply shortened the length of time required to create a bond with someone new.

A bond. That is the key to friendship. Finding a common unity, something we share with one another that is so strong that it connects us on a deeper level. When you create any type of bond with someone, you have just invested part of yourself into that person. Why should we consider the bond created in the digital arena any different than that made in the classroom? Or in the workplace? Or at a social event? We should not because the bond is the same for both.

Friendship is about sharing; sharing a view; sharing an opinion; sharing a belief; sharing an idea; sharing love; sharing knowledge; sharing truth. Friendship is all of those things, and possibly much more, but of all of those things mentioned, there is something that connects them all as well: none are physical or tangible. Our friendships in real life are based entirely off of non-physical, non-tangible things. The bonds and friendships we create in the digital world are based on the same set of values as those we create in the real world.


World of Warcraft: Knights of Valor (Magtheridon)
I have been calling the people I have come to create strong bonds with on-line, whom I have never met in person, my digital friends for some time. I have grown very close to some of them in ways I never expected to. I find myself concerned about their well being; I look forward to celebrating their birthday (even if it is just a birthday wish) each year; I find joy and enlightenment in our conversations; I miss them when they are not there. I hope that I've managed to help you to come to the understanding that though you may have many real friends, that you most likely have many, many more that you weren't even aware of, your digital friends. I guess, after going over my post, that I have also discovered that I have committed a grave trespass against my digital friends:

You are not my digital friends; you are my friends and I am grateful for you all.