The Indescribable Complexity of Internet Friendship

The Indescribable Complexity of Internet Friendship

I have always thought for most of my adult life that I am pretty good at making friends.  I tend to keep the same friends for years.  I tend to make wise choices about who I trust.

I must admit that I am not sure I have ever been able to get a handle on Internet friendships.  By Internet friendships I mean friendships that I make where I know the person only on the Internet.

I tend to misjudge the friendship. For example, on xanga I am always surprised when I read a relationship as friendship and then I happen by a post written about me by someone who acted like a friend.  In other words, I am not sure I can read friendship and loyalty on the Internet like I can in real life.  Maybe there are just an inordinate amount of dysfunctional people on the Internet.

I remember being friends with a guy on xanga.  He told me he was more open with me than he was with anyone in his real life.  Then one day someone forwarded a screenshot of a comment he made about me.  I remember just being shocked by the statement.  I guess it was naive.  But I tended to trust the person.  We used to IM almost every night.  (I know this sounds like a gay relationship in retrospect).

(Here is a photo to make up for the last gay sounding paragraph).

I was friends with a lady and we talked all the time.  We were good friends and I enjoyed the time we spent talking.  But then one day, she went sort of crazy.  She acted like I betrayed her trust by not talking to her for awhile when I was busy at work.   At no time did I feel different about our friendship.  I just got busy.

I think my approach in real life has been “friends for life” and I am not sure that approach works on the Internet when someone can shut down and remove everyone from their Internet life instantly. 

It appears on the Internet that it is too easy to misunderstand a friendship.  You are never really sure whether the other person is rolling their eyes at you or if they have a smile on their face when your message pops up.  You can’t read their body language.  You can’t tell if you are making them mad when you are unaware that they really do care who becomes the next president.

I appreciate the friends I have made on the Internet but I also wonder if I am cut out for the short term mentality of Internet friendships.


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