Yesterday, during our preparation chat with the show producer for Chai FM, both Tanya and I had mentioned that we felt like our online friends (OLF’s) knew more about the inner workings of ourselves than our real life friends (RLF’s). I am very fotunate to have had a number of my OLS’s morph into RLF’s, so I feel I get the best of both words but it really got me thinking about why this is?
Then during the show, the presenter had asked me how deeply one gets invovled in this online communities and in the lives of OLF’s and I would imagine that that is the key to why we are so much more open with our OLF’s than we are with our RLF’s. I think partly its because our online persona does to a certain degree, offer us a level of anonimity. I mean really, aside from what you’ve read on my blog, what do you really know about me? And when I say “me” I know I have shared and shared deeply my internal persona, my spirit, my soul but there are more superficial attirubutes about myself and my life that you don’t know. My RLF’s get to see all aspects of me, while OLF’s only get to see what I allow them to see, there is safety in that.
With RLF’s, there is often this need to hold back on certain bits of information or to portray oneself or ones life as more or better or different than what it actually is, speaking for myself, I find it harder to be totally authentic with RLF’s for fear of judgement. With OLF’s, its a much more fickle relationship. I don’t need to fear OLF’s judgement because if I don’t like OLF’s judgement, I can just block, unfollow or unfriend them. Not quite so easy to do with RLF’s. In addition, I find my OLF’s are a much more like minded and targeted audience. Where RLF’s might have come into my life through work, or perhaps a friends wife or through a mutual friend and while there is something in common, there isn’t always that deeper connection that one has with OLF’s. I know that my OLF’s are deeply connected to me and I to them through a shared experience of infertility or motherhood, there is a common ground and that common ground gives us a deeper understanding of each other but also seems to allow us to be more authetnic about who we are, what we are experiencing and sharing our struggles.
I feel greatly privilidged to be able to pariticpate in many online friendships and even more so to be able to call many of my OLF’s RLF’s as well. Those are the relationships that feel the easiest and that require the least amount of work, those are the friends who really “get me”, who understand the working of my mind and what makes me tick and can accept me, warts and all.