When it comes to human relations, technology has created a new environment. Remember the days when socializing meant going to the arcade or chatting with friends after Sunday service? School recess, parks, and strolls down the beach forced face-to-face contact. Social media created a world where although more people are connected, they’re also losing the human aspect of relationships. Many feel technology is making us colder, desensitized, and distant. But is that it? Are we just drowning in technological progress and losing out big time?
In his blog “6 Tips for Introverts Who Hate Social Media,” Darrel Girardier shares some advantages to connecting through technology.
He says, “[I’ve] come to realize that social media and introverts are a pretty good match. One of the beauties of the vastness of the Internet is that if you love something weird or offbeat, you can probably find a group of people who are just like you.” That really got me thinking.
I’ve known Amy for about ten years. We stumbled upon each other on a Christian inspirational forum. Amy was humble and friendly and we clicked immediately. We found out we lived in the same state, just opposite coasts. We prayed for each other, encouraged one another, and kept in touch throughout the years, forming an everlasting bond.
I asked Amy about our online friendship and why it works so well. She says, “I remember feeling a kindred spirit with you right off the bat. I still can’t put into words exactly the sense of familiarity, but I’ve had it with few people. There are those sacred few that just ‘get’ you and you’re one of them.”
When asked if she has made any other friends online, she shares, “Some of my closest friends have been made online. You’re one of them. I’m best friends with a girl I met on a forum who lives in England. It was just one of those situations where we began talking and then found out we had myriad of things in common. It’s a very special friendship and I am grateful.”
In 2006 I’ve made another great friend. Jenn and I met on an anime website and immediately connected. I remember thinking how smart and mature she was for her age. She was opinionated and determined, yet gentle and sympathetic. I admired that. The more we chatted, the more I realized she was an amazing person.
When thinking about our friendship, Jenn says, “You were always trying to find ways to help the community connect more and you were so active in the forums and so was I. I was definitely looking to make connections I didn’t have with people outside. I worked full time and it’s harder making friends as an adult. It was really nice to meet such friendly people that were just as involved and interested in the site as I was.”
Jenn has met another important person on the same website. He is now her husband. The 1,300-mile distance between them made the early stages of their relationship a bit difficult, but their openness to concrete expectations eased everything into place.
“After our initial meeting, we really missed each other and continued to talk daily to one another,” Jenn shares. “After about a year, we both decided there was more to the friendship and that we should try living together to see if we were compatible. I feel that we were lucky that we had so much in common and that our personalities meshed so well. I think that not having the expectation that we would work out was healthy for us and actually probably contributed to everything working out the way it did.”
What seems to make online relationships work so well? Are these relationships so different than face-to-face ones? I believe they’re both equally beneficial as long as we use common sense.
Amy says, “In general, I am leery about meeting people online, but not much more so than in person. If I walked into a place with a tremendous crowd of diverse people, would I expect to get along or trust every person in that crowd? No, of course not. I would use my instincts, my intuition, and I would proceed to enjoy the event to the best ability while remaining cautious of my surroundings.” She stresses the importance of conducting safe online relationships. “Obviously one must be more discerning due to the fact you can’t see the person on the other end. If getting to know someone verify who they are before giving any personal information.”
Jenn validates this advice. “As far as meeting people online, I would only do it with people I’ve known and talked to for years. Time tends to draw out things that might be a cause for concern. There are a few people I know that I wouldn’t feel overly confident about going out to stay with, but I think meeting people is a great and healthy thing to do.”
Healthy relationships can be formed in many ways. Technology allows us to reach people that might’ve been destined to be part of our lives. I am thankful for my friendships with Amy and Jenn. They’ve each enriched my life in so many ways and I know I can always count on them. If it weren’t for technology I would have never met them.
Have you met someone online and created a great relationship?