Cyber-friends are People Too
I must start by saying that this is not a Hub about the social networking site called Cyberfriends.com. It isn't about outer space or aliens. So, if that is what you came here looking for, sorry to disappoint you. However, I would like for you to stay for a while. Sit down, relax, enjoy the Hub... please and thank you. :)
Becoming Part of a Community
How many of you have been told in the past by your parents or guardians not to talk to strangers? I know I have. Of course, that was back when I was a little girl so now I've thrown that lesson out of the window. With my new hobby in social networking, I've blatantly opposed that childhood lesson.
With Facebook, I only 'befriend' people I know in person - although I did stretch my limitations a bit just recently - but that's a different story.
If you are a part of the HubPages community, chances are, you will become 'personally' involved with another member, if you haven't already. That doesn't mean that you'll begin cyber dating or anything like that but you will probably form some sort of relationship. When I joined HubPages, I wasn't aware of the friends I would 'meet.' Now, you're probably thinking: friend is a strong word for people you can't talk to in person, but allow me to explain.
Definitions of Friend
- A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard
- A person who gives assistance, patron; a supporter
- A person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile
- A member of the same nation, party, etc...
Proof of Friendship
If you will direct your attention to the blue box to your right - as you read this section - I will explain my reasoning. I've come to the conclusion that you can make friends online because 1) frieship involves personal regard. Person regard involves respect - the role we play here on HubPages in commenting on other's Hubs and the appreciation we sometimes have to show in order to encourage someone else's writings. However, that doesn't automatically make you a friend.
So... 2) We've all probably given some level of support - just by reading other Hubs - here on HubPages.
3) Those of us who continue to comment - nicely - on each others' Hubs and/or speak to others via email, you must be on good terms. Unless you're a masochist, unless you like to be hurt, then why continue speaking with someone who you are not on good terms with?
4) This fourth definition applies to ALL of us no matter which blog site we belong to or how close we are to others. As long as you are part of a blogging community, especially one such as HubPages, you're a friend to the network - loosely speaking of course.
Let's Be Realistic
I can imagine at this time there may still be some skepticism about forming good relationships online. So, let me try to help things along a bit. First of all, when I use the term Hubs they can most likely apply to all sorts of blogs. Similarly, when I use the term HubPages, it can apply to other social networking sites. Just expand your imagination.
I am aware of what a 'true friend' is. I have 'real' friends of my own. I'm not a hermit, I do not live in solitude and no, I have not locked myself away from humanity. I go to church 3 days a week - once for dance rehearsal, once for Bible study and then Sunday (sometimes 2 services) for church service. I fellowship and I mingle.
I attend college where there's no escaping being social and I have managed to meet a few friends. So, I'm not an internet fanatic with no live people to call friends.I know what friends are. I know what it's like to get close enough to someone to call them sister and I've recently learnt that the same can happen via the internet. Am I causing a controversy yet? I hope not.
Now, let's be real. There are MANY limitations with making friends online. The number one doubt being: how do I know that person really is who he/she claims to be? At times, that really frightens me and other times, it doesn't concern me in the least. That's the number one doubt and possibly the only doubt. From that one doubt, many others can spawn.
There is a lot of technology out there than can enable anyone to pose as someone else. People can always post a fake photo, make up a sad story about themselves, falsify contact information and personal information, etc... There's always that issue.
How can you be so sure that you're not chatting with a serial killer in Amsterdam? Well, you can't. Sorry to burst your bubble.
Knowing this major doubt, I remained obstinate and dove into a few relationships here on HubPages. Beginning with my mentor, who reached out to me initially, I made my first cyber-friend. He taught me all the basics of HubPages, enabling me to learn more on my own. You can say he gave me my wings and pushed me out of the tree. If I were to fall, he would have probably caught me.
Two others... oh wait, three others, I have added on Facebook. BUT - don't judge me yet - it was after chatting with them for a while and coming to some sort of... not agreement. I cannot quite think of the right word but I added three people as friends on Facebook for convenience. One person suggested we chat on Facebook, which was a lot of fun by the way.
Then there was someone else who I just invited to become my Facebook friend on a whim. The other person I felt was necessary since we were planning to work together on a writing project - and the fact that she's awesome! So, you see, I had a good enough reason. Yes? Oh wonderful! Thank you for agreeing with me.
There's someone here on HubPages who I began speaking to via email because I felt compelled to email her and let her know just how I felt about a comment she left me. I was so encouraged by one of her comments, along with others, that I just had to tell her personally. Following that email were many others, based on things that we had in common or on things she had a similar experience to/with.
This person has so many great life lessons and such great humour that she's just great, period! I really like talking to her because I always get a new insight and a good laugh.
Another person, I somehow immediately connected to. It was the strangest thing that I will try my best to describe. This person reached out to me, a request for assistance with something. She told me something about herself that had me worried right away and it automatically registered in my mind, crossing several lists such as people to pray for and people I care about.
I never once thought of her as being a fake or anything like that. I immediately thought: this is a person who needs someone to care about her. There was no further thinking. For a week straight, this person and I chatted about various things. She sent me a picture of herself just so I can see the person behind the words and I replicated the action! Yeah! I can't believe MYSELF. I just did it. I may have thought about it for a little while but it was, a LITTLE while. So of my picture went through cyberspace to the other side of the world.
We continued talking that week, often several times a day! She seemed like such a kind-hearted and open person. Not hiding too much - but of course I didn't know what she could be hiding.
Now, 8 weeks or so later, from a virtual perspective, we have a sort of sisterly relationship. I cannot explain how that happened but I plan to one day meet this person, as I hope to meet other friends I've met here.
Would you believe that there are at least 2 people who I have made up in my mind that I WILL meet sometime? Yes! Believe it or not, I plan to. I've actually warned them of that and they welcome me. Unfortunately, one person lives halfway across the world so that's a bit sad but... something will work out.
More Social Networking, Less Socializing
With the new trend in social networking, people are losing touch with reality. People rather text now than make a phone call, or tweet rather than send an email - which is more personal. Things are becoming more public, more lenient, less cautious, less protected. People are becoming more open but at the same time more withdrawn.
Soon, people will lose the ability to communicate face to face. Already, people have integrated instant messaging terms such as BRB (be right back), JK (just kidding) and OMG (Oh my god/gosh) into daily speech. Is this a problem? Possibly.
Because of this trend and other factors, many people who are avid social networkers are dehumanizing people. Everyone, especially those only known online, are seen as just... well, avatars really. They aren't seen as 'real' people. Just a username. Just something that writes this and that.
Bloggers comment on other blogger's writings but only to an extent. There is limited interest or concern (depending on the writing content - at least of personal experiences) to the PERSON behind the words. For those who go on and continue to check up on those PEOPLE behind the words and behind the computer and the internet, they get to know the real person and therefore form real relationships.
If someone mentions in real life that they are facing a terrible life ordeal, then the decent thing to do will be to either make it your duty to check up on that person and offer some level of comfort or arrange for that to be done.
I look at Hubbers the same way. Perhaps I am just the kind of person who loves to help others, or who is overly compassionate and empathetic but I think it's just the right thing to do, especially in tight communities such as HubPages.
A lot of times, people comment a lot when they first 'discover' you, then they fall off the face of the earth and you never hear from them again. Others, you can comment on their writings until your face turns blue and they will never returns the favour. That's just how some people are and I guess we have to accept that cyber-friends are people too.
Thanks for reading!