Sunday, November 7, 2010

Abstract and Remote Love

We've moved into a new era. I think we need to talk about new emotions that follow any sort of change. There was a time we loved only those near and dear to us and our worlds were basically small and consisted of our families, circle of friends, and perhaps a fellowship of church members. But now, now our worlds have greatly enlarged with the ability to connect and form friendships, even romantic relations, all over the world. I've come to love this about the world wide web.

Many have fears and trepidations about this new technological means of forging friendships. I would never imply that evil intent is not present as it is also in our tangible world. We must evaluate our friendships online as well as off. And we must listen to ourselves when we do this, heeding those feelings that make us wary.

But laying aside the evil, the internet, as I see it, has contributed so much toward connecting us as people - to making us come together as a whole. There is some kind of magnificent power in learning to see inside someone's soul through their words before you ever, if ever, touch their hand or look into their eyes. These things do not happen quickly. No more than a friend in person is made over night neither does it occur in the online world. It's through conversation and time that it is revealed what level of friendship may come from the connection.

Which brings me to my point: abstract and remote love. I'm not speaking of romantic love, as such, but love for others, love for friends. In the last few years, I've made a number of friendships here online that I believe to be very real and true, yet, I may or may not ever come to know these in the physical. Does that make them any less real? Some of these friendships, I have been fortunate to grab hold of and hug personally, some of the friendships exist here in my same city, none of which I knew prior to our meeting online.

I've been teased, at times, about my friends online and felt their sarcastic implication that these were not "real" friends. That makes me both mad and sad. Sad that some stay sheltered in their own little circle afraid to reach beyond what they can see or touch. And mad that, perhaps, these friendships are much deeper than that of the one expressing their sarcasm.

I am quite understanding in the fact that not everyone has embraced the internet in this manner nor do they feel they want or need to. That is okay with me. But I, on the other hand, have found my world enlightened and broadened by the friendships made here. I do admit that I often wonder if some of these friendships feel as real to the other as it does to me. Recently, with the downfall of my blogging circle, I think we all began to feel the 'realness' of our friendships. A wave of 'how will we keep in touch' thoughts ran rampant. We began to seek other routes to stay connected. We made efforts to keep our community intact. Something was really heart warming to me about that. Yes, some of my former friends fell away. I'm still grieving those losses and remaining grateful for the season we had together, a season where it's my wish that we both took something away from the friendship.

Now, with the online circle a bit smaller, what I am feeling is an even closer personal friendship with those who have knitted together. Is this not real? I need to know because sometimes in my adventurous mind, I dream of visiting each and everyone of these online friends. Time will tell those that are true, I believe, and who knows just what I might do :)

If you are here and reading, I can assume that you, too, have a penchant for the internet, that you find some joy in connecting with others. So, share with me, please, how real are your friendships that you maintain online?


Marian said...

I think that this is lovely, Paige!

Anonymous said...

My heart is aligned with yours in many ways, Paige. I'm so glad that our friendship has lasted beyond it's beginning in the blog world. Actually, I think we went from acquaintances to friends AFTER I left the blog world. :0) I'm so glad we did.

There is much that I miss about our old blog venue, mostly the connections with other artistic, thinking people; the community there was AMAZING. It was absolutely as real to me as any offline community I have ever been a part of and more meaningful in many ways.

I am profoundly grateful for the connections I have kept. I have been admittedly and obviously cautious about getting close to people I've met online, but only because I had some terrible experiences. Even with those terrible experiences, the good far, far, far outweighed the bad.

Some of my best friends are people I have never met face-to-face. I don't need to touch them to love them. I think it's easier to see the heart of a person online, over time. Face-to-face relationships are cluttered with life stuff. They're not pure heart and mind the way online friendships are. The problem, for me, is that the online environment can create a false sense of intimacy, of "knowing." I have learned to school myself to give online relationships time, so they don't form and blow out so quickly, as I think many online relationships do. Had I not trusted a "spark" the way I did, I wouldn't have ended up burned. I suppose that happens offline too. In fact, I'm sure it does, I just think it happens more easily and frequently online than off.

Fortunately, I've learned and grown tremendously over the past three years that I've been online. It's been a wild ride in many respects but in the last year I think I've really, finally, mined the gold and burned off the dross of my online relationships. Like I said, I haven't seen many of my closest friends face-to-face.

I've given up trying to explain it to people who don't inhabit the online world, or only use it for work or games. It's not something that one can understand without experience. I would have thought it was utter hogwash if I hadn't experienced it myself. :)

I could go on and on here, Paige, but I'll cut myself off now.

What a wonderful blog!

Misha said...

Wonderful, thoughtful post, Paige. I couldn't agree more.

It has been through my on-line experiences that I have met two of the best friends I have ever had. We have not met face to face, and if that never happens, I will still count myself blessed beyond measure to have gotten to share this journey with them. If it does happen, LOOK OUT! Our combined energy, enthusiasm, laughter and tears may very well birth fireworks, shooting stars, new galaxies ~ who knows?!


Happy Monday to you, my friend.

Kev said...

Hi Paige. I commented on the link you had on facebook, but I didn't see it there today, so here is an expanded comment.
How real are my friendships that I made online? Just as real as the ones face to face. I think I actually get to know MORE of the person online; sure, there are the fakes but fakes happen offline too. I get to know the inner qualities because the physical is taken out. Like Kate, I too have given up trying to explain it to people who are unfamiliar with the whole social media phenom. But I understand. Great blog, Paige!

Heres a gem said...

Hi Paige! I haven't been online much lately, so I am grateful that I happened to see this post. :) I love what you said about seeing into someone's soul through their words. I think that's something that really helps to bond bloggers together. To us, writing is not just some alternate form of communication - it's an intimite form of communication.

Hope you have been well... glad to see you writing here, hope to see more! You have such a peaceful *voice* :) I've missed you!

Steven said...

Amen to that. Yeah, I said a-m-e-n. My life has become profoundly richer because of my online friendships, and many times I'd rather hang with y'all - yeah, I said y'-a-l-l - than people I know "in real life".

I think one reason such online friendships can be even more meaningful than face-to-face ones is because there's a comfort and security there that can't exist face to face....people can be more free to speak their hearts and don't have all the social hangups to worry about. In person you'd be hard put to get me to string two sentences together, but online I can type/chatter away easily. I'm glad our paths crossed Paige...a-m-e-n to that.

paige said...

As I was sitting here reading everything each of you commented, I realized "the proof is in the pudding" :)

And this is so profoundly why I enjoy your friendships. Wow...I feel sparks right here, Misha. Katy, talk about mining the gold. I am really beginning to appreciate the way my group of friends is refining itself. No regrets for the friendships that passed through my life here and drawing nearer and dearer to the ones committed to staying tight♥

A-m-e-n, Steven, Amen. I still find it so hard to believe that as well as you express yourself and as soulful as you are that we couldn't manage more than a few sentences in person. I'm just not buying it. I know too much may as well talk ;)

There's actually days my heart aches a little because I do wish we could all gather for a chat and dinner. Sometimes I even daydream of meeting each and every one of you. Who knows....some day I may hitch a camper to my car and take me a long road trip ♥

Thank ya'll (♥) for sharing here with me:)

debrfarr said...

Love the comments I've been reading..Paige, as far as your question goes about the "realness" of friendships on-line...I have met 3 or 4 people on FB that I have never met in person, only on FB..they have been wonderful, a great deal of support for me whenever I'm "down" or going through tough MS times, family drama, etc. I feel they "know" me more than some of my own relatives yes, I believe they are just as real as "the person next door"...Thanks, Paige for sharing your "blogs" with us.

peacegirl said...

Thank you for coming, Debbie. I have to apologize that I missed your comment before now. I'm tickled pink to have reconnected with you here, online, though we are but blocks from one another, without this connection our circles may never have overlapped. I'm equally glad to hear that you, too, have developed meaningful and helpful relationships online. It's really kinda neat, huh? We don't have to dress up, go out, or even make a sandwich to sit for a few minutes and chat with a friend :)