“Online friends aren’t true friends.”
I have heard this statement said occasionally throughout my life. Never towards me, personally, but I have seen and heard people explain why they believe this. The most common argument I’ve heard in regards to online friendships, however, is: “You can’t be friends with someone you’ve never met in person.”
It’s a valid statement, I suppose, but I do not believe it dictates what “true friendship” is. Personally, as someone who is shy and experiences a great deal of anxiety when it comes to interacting with others, I like being able to communicate without having to be face-to-face. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind face-to-face interaction from time to time, but it can freak me out sometimes, especially when I’m around a lot of people.
For instance, I have an online group of friends who I’ve known for about three to five years. This group consists of around nine people if you include me, and if I were to speak with that many people in real life, I’m not sure how I would be able to handle it. So, communicating with them online is a much better alternative for me, and it allows me to be able to talk to them without worry.
My friends and I primarily communicate through an application called Discord, where we have a group chat with specific channels catering to different topics. All of us are writers to some degree, each with our own characters, so most of our channels have to do with writing (we even have our own sections where we can put ideas). We also message each other in a group chat on Snapchat from time to time, updating one another on our lives with fun and silly pictures.
Some people don’t see online friendships as being real, but I personally disagree. I treasure my online friends just as much as my offline ones, and I don’t treat them any differently. In my opinion, there are three factors to take into account when evaluating friendship: kindness, loyalty, and compassion. The friends I’ve made online are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever known, and we’ve been together for years. We’re always there for one another no matter what, and they’ve helped me through some of the toughest points in my life.
So please, don’t discourage someone for having friends online. You never know who brings happiness into a person’s life.