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The Twefinition of Friend

There has been a little buzz in the social media community lately on how intimate our online relationships really are.  I have seen several posts denying that we can have true friends on the internet.  That the relationships we have are shallow at best and really just a fallacy, a fantasy, that we have created. That it is impossible to make real friends online.

I disagree.

Debating over real online friendship vs. fake negates the popular SM idea that says “you get out what you put into it.”

Some of these are the same people who will ask you to pay a lot of money to develop a SM marketing plan for your business, company, organization.  Does the lack of real online relationships mean that your virtual customer base is less meaningful to you than those who walk into your store.

Some of these are the same people who convey the advantages of building your brand to make you identifiable to customers in a way that they know what you are all about and continue to come back to you. Does the idea that we can’t form true connections online make delivering your brand message to your fan base a waste of time?

Some of these are the same people who write and encourage us to engage and reciprocate online with others for the purpose of creating a lasting connection of people who want to hear what we have to say and will share what we have to say with others.  Does that mean the connection is worthless without the ability to build real mutual respect and admiration for one another through physical world experiences?

Webster’s online Dictionary defines a friend as “1. One who entertains for another such sentiments of esteem, respect, and affection that he seeks his society and welfare; a well-wisher, an intimate associate..”  as well as “3. One who looks propitiously(kindly, favorably) on a cause, an institution, a project, and the like; a favorer, a promoter..”

I think the debate  regarding our online connections as a real friend is a moot discussion.  We surely define our own relationships.  If two people show “sentiments of esteem, respect, and affection” toward one another on Twitter(FB, etc) that brings them to feel an emotional connection that they define as a friendly relationship, then it is.

The idea that we have to share physical space to develop a relationship seems archaic. Since the advent of technologies such as the telephone, radio, cell phones, skype, and the like, we have been able to build and strengthen ties with family and friends who live across states or countries. We are a mental based form of beings. Our ability to think, process, plan, imagine, and create also allows us to form very real feelings toward others who may not share in our day-to-day dealings. Just ask friends separated by distance.  As long as some form of communication exists between them,  friendships are carried through out lifetime.

In our physical world, we each define what a friend means to us. Friendship to me is a little like love. Love is a feeling, an emotion, a connectioncreated between the two people involved based on their own experiential criteria. Friendship has the same quality. I think we are advancing as humans in our ability to foster relationships through intelligent discussion and emotional thought rather than based purely on our tangible needs being met. Even if we can’t share the same physical space, we look forward to hearing from a person, communicating with them, connecting with them in real time on a platform such as Twitter. We look forward to “seeing” them and can even get excited that they appear in our timeline or feed at a time when we are present there. And I have heard many examples of people asking for assistance via social media and the friends they have never met F2F come to their aid. If there are no friends here, why are there #tweetups?

There are obviously people who lie, deceive, and betray others online. But, they exist next door and in our towns, too.There are times to be cautious for certain. But, the opportunity to meet others who are worthy is so exponential via SM that creating an online friendship seems the natural course when we use online sharing communities.

Honestly. The naysayers must never have had a pen pal as a child.

A social media-made friend is defined by the increased level of interaction and engagement that brings about an emotional connection and continued reciprocal sharing between two people using online means. That’s my definition.

Simply Put-  The Twefinition of a friend is exactly who you decide it should be, by whatever standards you set.

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