With modern times and technology that has served to allow the breakdown of traditional boundaries by allowing world wide communication, by messaging, calls and videos calls, allow for new forms of interpersonal relationships. There are some detractors that socializing through a computer screen can cause a dissociation from reality and create a hermit like behaviour in a human, there have been many cultural exchanges that have fostered friendships that eventually become offline friends.
It is true that everything in excess will cause a bad habit and the same goes for the use of technology, specially when used for socializing and making new friends. I would also argue, that trying too hard to have an “offline” friends can also lead to that person keeping a distance and needing space. So a person can become needy and obnoxious both online and offline if the person has no self-control and does not understand the meaning of friendship and how to nourish a healthy relationship with a friend.
I consider an online friend just as real and valuable as an offline one. There are many different situations that may lead to having an online friend, be it because one had to move to a faraway town or country or as simple as meeting online and hitting it off with many things in common. I may ask “Do you enjoy the company of such person? Can you talk about things in an intimate manner? Do you care about them and how they are doing?”. I ask myself these questions and the line of online and offline blurs because it’s not about being physically in reach, it is about having things in common.
I personal account, of an online friend who I met roughly eight years ago, though a common love for technology at an online forum about cryptocurrency. Initially, it was like any person you meet and have a good time, but as times passed it developed into a real and proper friendship, to the point of “meeting” his family and my own. We had planned that he would come with his partner to meet me and my family in person and later on I would travel with my wife to his country. Things must happen for a reason, and one day he told me he had been developing a strange rash in his arm, but had a set travel date, then he went to the doctor and was told he has leukaemia. We still kept in touch and through his partner would exchange text and an occasional video call to give him my support for afar.
Five years ago, his partner calls me and tells me sobbing, we lost him, I broke down in tears. His mother and partner came to visit as it was his dying wish, they met my wife and kids, I showed them my home town. We reminiscence in his memory, left them at the airport and said our final goodbyes.
Did I develop a true friendship with a person I considered valuable and important to me? I dare say yes, and I felt a big loss as I heard the news of his demise. So, online or offline, is irrelevant as long as the friendship is true, for only true friendship is valuable and important. As long as there is a balance between online and offline activities, friendship can develop in any community, and both forms are equally valuable and important.