I don’t think that being in the same room with someone automatically makes them closer to me. Closer physically, sure, but they don’t have more access to my emotions or my vulnerabilities because they can step on my foot. So when someone says that there’s a difference between “real” friends and “online” friends, I call baloney. Is geography really the main determining factor between whether someone can technically be a friend? In my opinion, and I believe the opinion of many others who are getting more and more comfortable with applications such as Skype, absolutely not.
Both of my kids have friends in other states and countries that they’ve never shaken hands with, but they talk on Skype, share their lives with each other, and have forged close bonds because of this. The fact that they haven’t been able to high-five over a completed level of Halo hasn’t diminished anything. Because they’ve only conversed via video chat doesn’t make them less of friends.
I, myself, have made some strong friendships with people I’ve met online. They care about me and I care about them, even though we’ve never been in the same room. If they were to ask me for help I would give it to them as strongly as if it were a similar friend from around the block. They would do the same for me.
Isn’t that the real meaning of friendship? Not that we share a zip code, but that we care for each other. That we look out for one another. That we offer each other support. Online friend or not, I believe that once you give and receive kindness that’s it—friendship has been achieved.