07 April 2008

Virtual friendships

A couple of days ago, over email, a software engineer ‘friend’ I had ‘met’ on a social network mentioned that he has included me in a special list he keeps of ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ people. I was delighted and honoured, and emailed him to tell him so.

We’ve been exchanging thoughts, ideas and opinions on literary fiction, films and life in general for over a year now, over emails and chats, and now our ‘friendship’ had reached a certain level of recognition and respect for each other. Since we live in different cities in India, we have not met yet. You see, from day one, our ‘friendship’ has been virtual, made possible by the Internet.

I share similar ‘friendships’ with others I’ve ‘met’ online: a history Ph D student in Australia, a corporate lawyer in Brazil, an HR management consultant, a market researcher, an electrical engineer from India… to name a few. Apart from the HR management consultant whom I met on a blind date in Bangalore last year, and have been in touch ever since, these online ‘friendships’ have remained virtual.

Today, there are many people like me who have embraced the Internet and the revolution it has brought in... in connecting people; in helping people make virtual ‘friends’ through online social and professional networks. Some ‘friendships’ have moved further to phone conversations and face-to-face meetings. A few friendships have even become close. Within my larger circle of friends, I know of two marriages which had begun with introductions on the Internet.

As you can guess, I’m an advocate of online social networks and virtual friendships. I believe online social networks connect people. Or, at least, help connect people. The rest is left to specific individual ‘friendships’... to develop or be destroyed… just as things are with relationships in the real world.

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