Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Across the miles

Caroline has been back in England now for about two weeks, making contact with people she knew years ago. I myself wrote recently about moving around from place to place, and the effect that had on keeping in touch with friends. It made me wonder about how we do make friends and then keep in touch.

Childhood friends, if you don't live nearby, for the most part seem to change as we all do and then lose touch. Does that happen if you don't move? Do you then change in similar ways? I've heard of people whose friends date back to the first day at school, but in my experience, moving means that we change in different directions. I've made friends, good friends, as an adult, but even when keeping in touch, they move off in different directions. Not all, it must be said. I do have friends dating back many years but often not the people I thought were "best friends". Then again there are others who barely keep in touch, but when you do meet up it's as though you had never been apart.

I knew as soon as I met one person that, in spite of quite an age gap, we would like each other and 15 years later we are still great friends. Now that we only occasionally see each other face to face, we chat online or make Skype calls every few days. What is that connection? Will we be able to keep that bond even after I move away from the area, as I will no doubt. She won't move, she never has - we are so very different in many ways and yet such good friends. Would we have made that connection if we had first met online?

And what is exercising my mind today is whether we can keep friends via the internet just as easily as if we were close by. Even more, can we make real friends over the internet? I know of at least one couple who have successfully developed a lasting relationship after they first met on a forum. But how? I've always believed in a sort of "chemistry" that occurs when you meet as it did when I met that colleague. Is there an equivalent chemistry that can be sensed online in a different way? Do we even have the same persona online as we do in real life?

I don't know the answers but I have found that, after a time, I do feel I have formed an idea of what people are like through chat, emails, blogs. Or am I being totally naive?


  1. A. I find myself wondering similar things, especially after reconnecting with some friends from school. I find it odd, but nice, that even after not seeing, or even communicating with many of my friends for years (10 years in some cases), once we get together, its as if we just saw each other yesterday. I have had such a good time seeing my friends from childhood again, and it is incrediable that although our lives have all gone in many different directions, and changes have been made a long the way, it seems our core is still the same.

  2. I don't think you are being naive. I don't see why friendships can't be established on the internet over time. And, in some ways, is is easier to keep in touch - no reason to not continue to communicate over the years. If you meet some day, fine. If not, I think the friendship is still real.

    And I finally found out that you are right-handed. And that all isn't going to come off, you know! :)

  3. A. I have lost touch with a lot of my friends since I moved here. I still will see them when I go back home, will communicate for a while and then it seems life happens. We grow apart, and then the cycle repeats itself. I do not want that to happen with the friends I have found here. I love you all for many different reasons.

  4. I'm delighted to hear you're having such a good time with your friends Caroline. It's somehow very reassuring as well as heart-warming when you do successfully meet up with people you've known for so long.

    Max, what makes you think it was my hand? If you need to know whether or not I was right-handed I would happily tell you. Actually it is my hand though a copy of one on Flickr. And I can't tell you how long it took. And some of it was too small. And it smudged and had to be re-done. And it didn't come off in water. (but did on the towels). You're so bloody clever :)
    Still, I think you're right, in some ways online friendships should be easier to maintain because the basis of the friendship won't change.

    So Ettarose, if Max is right as I reluctantly admit he may be, it shouldn't be too difficult for us all to keep in touch. I don't want to lose contact with my friends either, I very much don't.

  5. Being an army brat you got used to moving every 3 years and therefore friendships were transient and shortlived.

    I have made, and kept friendships formed from initial internet experiences but made better by phone calls, meetings etc.

    Some people are meant to be in our lives for ever and some are just passing through and saying hi.

  6. Hi Sage! I wasn't an army brat but I did move very frequently during my childhood so I really don't know anyone dating back before I was about 12 years old, and even those are few. I'd like to think if I make a special friend, nothing will let me allow them slip through my fingers. They will not get away :)


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