On Facebook, they have these memes circulating, where you ask your friends to describe you in one word, or tell a memory they have about you. I usually avoid the memes because they feel faintly narcissistic (can't believe I spelled that right on the first try)--not when others do them, but for me, yeah. I'm always harder on myself than I am on others. Anyway, last night I did one that seemed fairly harmless: How did we meet? I am saddened by how little I remember, and amazed by how much others do. It was a fun exercise.
I realized that I have three main time periods in my circle of everyday buddies, and those are high school, college and blog, i.e. the past 3-4 years. There's a biiiiig, empty space between college and blog. It's not that I was completely isolated, I worked during most of that time, but the demands of family life kept me from creating a lasting bond, I suppose. It's hard to make friends when you can't just hang out and have fun.
That's why I hate it when people dismiss online relationships out of hand, or even ridicule them as pathetic. When online communication started years ago, it was generally accepted that relationships online were pretty much meaningless. After all, you're not really talking and interacting with a human, just words on a screen. I've found, though--and I think a lot of other people have, too--that the interactions we have with each other online can be just as meaningful as real life friendships. Is it healthy for online connections to replace real-life ones? Probably not. But can they be a supplement, enriching your life in countless ways? Indubitably. (That word took three tries.) No matter how cynics enjoy reducing solely-Internet friendships to their electrons, there is a human being sending his or her intentions to you. The method in which you receive those intentions doesn't matter much.
Granted, it's harder to know what those intentions are without body language and inflection, but it's like having a hundred pen pals. And for someone like me, with limited opportunities to interact face-to-face with people who share my interests, this has worked pretty well. Don't you agree?