The online world is fun, isn’t it? Add to that the opportunity to become friends with people all around the world via Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp and the likes, and the fun quotient is taken to a whole new level. But have you started investing more time in online friendships rather than nurturing the real ones? Here’s why you should reconsider.
Online friends don’t know the real you
Thanks to your constant social media updates, your online friends know all the nitty-gritties about your life. They are aware of super personal details like how much you hate that colleague at work, the last exotic dish you ate, or where you took your first international trip. They like all your photos, maybe even leave a comment or two on special occasions. This friendship appears to be deep. It isn’t.
The thing is, these guys only know you by the events you choose to broadcast. They see the image you have carefully curated for yourself — all they know about you is what you chose to share. With that lack of connection, do you think they are going to be there for you when life knocks you down — that is, if you let them even know about what you’re going through? It’s all good when you get constant validation in the form of likes and comments for your life choices, but when things go wrong, who you gonna call? That’s right. Your offline friends aka your real friends.
Online friends leave when things get uncomfortable
Alright. So unlike the people above, you are one of those who is honest on social media. From your political beliefs to your take on sexism, everything you share is unfiltered. When your point of view is controversial yet popular, your online friends are vocal in their support. But when it is unpopular, you might have noticed this: the very same folks will either unfriend you or not say a thing till your next post (which they “happen” to agree with). Their presence in your life heavily relies on how popular or not your opinion is. Which healthy relationship functions that way? If the same thing happened in a face to face conversation with your real-life friend, would you even want to be friends with them? Probably not.
Online friends avoid calling you out on your bullshit
Since online friends are anything but intimate, they are not going to tell you when that life-changing decision you made or are about to make isn’t right for you after all. They will either ignore your “weird phase” or sugarcoat things. Why should they even care? To them, you are just one of many in their ever-increasing friends list. A one-dimensional person they don’t really care about. Only friends who truly care take time out from their busy lives to prevent you from messing up yours. Think: how did you get to that stage with them in the first place? By meeting them in the real world and having conversations about your passions, mistakes and regrets.
Of course, it’s not so easy to put something as complex as relationships in such a binary box. Some of you might have online friends who are just as amazing as offline friends. Some of you might only have online friends. Period. I am not trying to pit online and offline friends against each other, and proclaim one as better or worse. Both are important in their own place.
What I am trying to say is this: if you have online friends who you actually know and trust, take your friendship offline as well. Find a balance so you can create great memories both online and offline. Technology is a great way to stay in touch, but screen-free human interaction is what helps forge wholesome and beautiful relationships that last for years. And when it comes to friendship, the rule isn’t any different.
Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar
Mahevash Shaikh is the twenty-something author of Busting Clichés. She loves to write, draw and laugh (among other things). You can find her using words and pictures to express herself and redefine the word "normal" at www.mahevashmuses.com.