I love blogs, Facebook, e-mail lists, this whole world of internet relationships.
There are drawbacks, of course. Athol Dickson and Robbie Iobst both blogged about how easy it is to either be offended or to offend when using this type of communication.
But I love the relationships that form. There are people that I truly consider among my best friends even though I've never met them. People I've communicated with for more than a decade. We've shared the best and worst of ourselves and our lives. In some ways that's easier to do in this communication medium.
But I think we can also feel a false sense of familiarity. Many people are using that to replace true intimacy in their lives. If you spend time socializing online, but never having a chat over coffee with someone you can physically touch, then you need to consider trying to build that type of relationship into your life.
The intimacy can be real, but often it's not. I read about your life and begin to feel that I really know you. Yet, I once met someone who's blog I had participated in and talked to her as if we were long lost friends. She looked like she wanted to call 911. I don't really know her. She recognized my name, but she didn't really know me. For all she knew I was a crazed stalker. And I could have been.
It got me thinking, though. I took it as a warning to keep these things in perspective the next time I meet someone I "know" in this way. And if I meet one of my blog readers who seems overly familiar, I need to remember that I've put a lot of myself out here for the world to read.
When have you become someone's friend? When you've exchanged x number of personal e-mails? When you've commented x number of times on their blog? When you get friended on Facebook? Maybe we should coin a new term--"e-friends."
This affects all of us in cyber space. What do you think about it?