How much do you care for your online friends?

Just on the Ethiopian Charismas day, while checking my facebook page I recognized that a certain prominent Ethiopian figure was online on facebook and I wished him merry charismas but he did not reply I tried him one more time but he never said thank you. This made me ponder the following questions

Why would I come to be a friend of people whom I have never met? Do I really care for my online friends?  Can online friendship is as meaningful as one in the offline world?

For me online friendships can carry great weight though I have come across with some discourteous online friends as the one I encountered last Friday. Basically internet has revolutionized the nature of friendship, certainly in my experience. Now, the vast majority of my social interactions (be it with closer or distant friends or work colleagues) are electronic, via email, text, chat, Skype or Facebook.

Actuality, right now, apart from going to classroom or to my bed all of my interactions with other human beings are in electronic form. Whenever I walk I listen music or downloaded podcasts trough my earphones. I watch soccer on television. Or enjoy some movie on my laptop. My days are dominated with screens of many kinds. IPod, laptop or a television.

As an academician who has some understanding  on theories of interpersonal communication I know  there are times when a face-to-face conversation would be nice, but in the case of friends who live in the Netherlands or USA, that’s  impossible at least for our age. Who knows in the future?

However many people are critical of this kind of screen dominated life. Some have gone to the extent of arguing against social media like facebook. These people consider the likes of facebook as nothing but  e-gossip. They usually cite facebook users as e-gossipers and lovers of mubo jumbo. I admit I sporadically find myself going through my list of online friends and thinking who the hell is this person. I might spend some time by chatting some petty staff with someone who is in the other corner of the planet. But these people’s presence in my world has a deep value.

I think it is very dreadful to completely rule out the possibility of having online friends. How many of us judge others, not on the opinions they express, but on their physical appearance? Online interactions may occasionally be suggestive of street irritation in the way that the cover of anonymity permits some to throw basic courtesy out of the window like the one I mentioned on my anecdote, but they also free us from the burden of judgment according to race, age, weight, sex, dress, and accent and, by extension, social class. On what do you base your online friendships?

 

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