“Virtual” Friendships – for Real?

I make assumptions, do you? 

For some time I’ve had this assumption about virtual communities.  My thoughts went along this line:

“Come on, you can’t possibly have a real relationship with someone you’ve never met.  You don’t really know each other.  How can there be any depth of connection?”

I will admit this assumption was made based on my interaction with Facebook “friends” and I still don’t think Facebook “friends” are really friends, but I was wrong about the virtual community at large, specifically the blogging community. 

Last year, I had the opportunity to attend a blogging conference.  The 2:1 Conference was the first of its kind.  A conference designed for Christian homeschooling bloggers.  I went as a representative of one of the sponsors, Classical Conversations.  I left with many ideas planted in my head but mostly I left with the impression that these women are actually friends.  Do they spend their mornings getting their nails done together, going shopping and having coffee?  Of course not!  Some of us are lucky to get a single math problem done, but they are connected throughout the day with each other and they share each others’ sorrows and joys as instructed in scripture.  I found myself wondering how the connections got to be so deep since they were mostly “virtual”. 

Then…a EUREKA moment!  They already had gone through all the surface junk with each other, they didn’t have to pretend with each other and put their best face forward in order to impress one another.  They knew about the bad days and the good days.  They had already spent the time getting to know one another.  You might say that we can present ourselves however we want online and that we can easily be misled by someone and I suppose that is true.  But, the opposite is also true.  These women were real and genuine.  Sort of like not seeing your college roommate for several years and you can just pick up right where you left off. 

Most of these women blog about their daily lives.  The one girl I met recently had suffered a traumatic brain injury by being in a bounce house with her kids.  The internet and this community of homeschool mom bloggers were her lifeline during that time she spent recovering.  They prayed for her, checked in on her (via Twitter) and they loved on her.  When she finally met some of them face to face, you could see her gratefulness.  There is much to be fearful of online and we must be careful, but I realized that these women had genuine relationships with each other.  They were an encouragement to each other like I’ve never seen – even in a local church setting.

Obviously, I’ve changed my mind about blogging for real because I’m following the tips I learned at the conference.  But, I experienced so much more.  I would love to go this year, but I don’t think I can. Maybe next year I can go as a “newbie” blogger in my own right!

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