Partly based on msagara
's two posts
, and partly by shadowkat67
I haven't had the chance to make any extremely close friends online, but I suspect that's more a factor of time than anything else. I know there are a lot of people on my FL who I like a lot and think there's great potential to be very good friends with, but I've only had my LJ for about two years. It feels like foundations are being laid now; I'm getting used to people on LJ finally (I take a long time to get used to things), and I'm only just starting to feel very comfortable with my LJ environment. I'm telling you, it's that magic year-and-a-half mark ;). And I've always just sort of assumed that I would end up meeting people on LJ in RL eventually, or at least I hope I'll get the chance to. Online is well and good, and has been a godsend in the past two years, but there's also the fun of being able to go over to someone's house and snark over movies and popcorn, or just gossiping about books, life, clothes, and everything in between.
Two years also feels like a very short time to build a friendship. It doesn't mean that one isn't friends with someone else; it just means that it takes a lot of time to build all that foundation so that arguments and spats don't shake things up to much, it means enough time to get really comfortable with various quirks and habits. I'm also very influenced by my school with regards to the time factor -- I've known most of my friends in Taiwan for a good eight years now, and most of them, I've know since I was about nine years old. While I made some good friends in college, three years is still not that long of a time, all things considering.
I guess there are several factors in friendships -- time, frequency, interests, personality, etc. So there are friends that I've made just because I see them so often, even if I don't share many interests with them or our personalities don't quite mesh (these are the ones that tend to fall to the side the fastest). Time is a big one, but time can be pretty easily trumped by interests and personality, imho. All the people I still talk to from high school are people who I get along with at a very basic level and people whose interests I do share, which is good, given that we all suck at keeping in touch with each other and that we only see each other once a year, if even. And I think the personality thing is a big one -- you can share tons of interests with someone and even see them every day for years and years, but if something in your personalities don't click, it's so hard to keep it up. And it's hard to really know if personalities will click until you meet someone face to face. Or at least it is for me. I suspect you can get a good sense from someone's tone of voice on their LJ and the way they talk about things, but it's just more concrete in person.
But then, I'm also completely making this up, given that I've only met a handful of LJ people in RL, and even fewer on a semi-regular basis! I'd really love to meet more, but alas, I sigh over geographical constraints. And I don't mean to belittle the people I've met via LJ at all, because to be honest, LJ has been my social life for the past two years now, and (heh) I've often had a lot more fun on LJ than in many RL events. I'm hoping this changes a little (i.e. I hope RL gets more fun, not I hope to get off LJ), and that relationships I've made both online and off take off.
The really strange corollary to all this is that I see my good friends so rarely these past few years that they've become sort of online and phone friends as well. Or just see-once-a-year back at home or whenever they venture over to California friends. I'm actually still amazed that I have my good friends from high school still, because we all fell out of touch in college and went our different ways, but I can also pick up the phone and talk to them, and it feels like nothing has changed. And in another funny conflation of RL and LJ, I know at least one or two of my RL friends keep track of my LJ, and I keep track of their Xangas, because, as stated before, we all suck at keeping in touch. Another funny bit is that one of my really close friends is actually someone that I mostly got to know via the internet and phone, even though I had first met him in RL (*waves to Cy*). He wasn't in my class at school, so we didn't see each other that often then, and when I finally did start getting to know him, he had to gall to go and graduate ;). So we've kept in touch via infrequent visits and IM conversations, email and telephone calls, and while it can be a little funny meeting him in RL for the first five seconds, it still works.
It's gotten to the point in which I don't feel very strange at all talking to people primarily online -- the only people I talk on the phone with are my parents and the boy. And I'm horrible at phone conversations and IM as well. Maybe now I even associate online with something permanent? Hard to tell. But honeslty, the most reliable way to reach me is via email or LJ. I have horrible cell phone reception, I always forget to turn off IM or leave an away message, I hate answering the phone anyway because of telemarketers (and while driving, which scares the brains out of me). But there's this underlying sense of comfort in my friendships, that even after changes and various life experiences, they'll still be there. LJ feels a little like that to me as well. I think it's because of the community factor. I like having this group to hang around, even though I value good one-on-one friendships. And one-on-one friendships sometimes feel a little odd with no community context around them, which is what LJ provides that penpal-ship doesn't for me. I'm very big on community, probably because I grew up in a very tight-knit one in which my mom will tell her friends about my car accident and their kids (my friends) will IM me a week later, or another auntie will call to check up on me. One of the things I like best about where I grew up is the generational friendships, having family friends who are my own personal friends as well as my parents' friends so that outings are much more fun and less of an "adults having fun while the kids stare awkwardly in their corner" type thing.
Of course, it gets very claustrophobic and gossip-ridden at times, but that's just the flip side of the coin. Anyhow, I'm wondering if LJ will be my new community -- it already feels a little like it is, and I miss that sense of community so much. And now I've completely gone off the topic!
Therefore, it's time for the meme I mentioned earlier!
(But I do want to add that I'm still incredibly grateful for LJ and for LJ people... It was this giant help during senior year, when I felt like I wasn't connecting to anyone at all and losing myself completely, and it helped so much again during the huge depression that resulted during the job hunt. I had so few people to talk to and interact with in RL, and I seriously think if I hadn't had LJ during that time, I probably would have gone stark raving mad just talking to the boy and the rats. And of course the worst part of depression is that it isolates and makes you not want to try to connect with people, and because of the strange public-private space of LJ, I felt more comfortable talking about all the things that were going wrong with my life here than in RL, where I was apt to burst into tears and scare everyone off.)( Read more... )