25 October 2007


They say that online relationships aren't "real" because people can disappear at any time without notice, never to be seen again, and nobody knows what happened. This is no different from offline relationships. Every time someone graduates from a school, changes jobs, leaves a social club, or moves to a different city, people lose touch then, too. The number of people one stays in touch with when leaving any community, online or offline, is about the same.

They say that leaving an online community is like flipping a switch. Turn off the computer and it ceases to exist. This, also, is no different from offline communities. People can walk away from those, too, and never look back to see how their absence affects the ones they left behind.

They say those things and they are wrong, because we do still exist, and we do still care. Even if the one who leaves never does come back, we still have to wonder why.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree. There are people that I have chatted with that disappeared and I miss them. They were my friends and we had good times together.

There are differences between online and offline friendship though. I can find people IRL in a way that I can't with an online friend because I never even knew his/hers real name. So unless they go online again, they are lost forever.

Luckily I would be able to reach you even if you did disappear online ;).

MWT said...

You probably could because you live in a much smaller country, too.

Finding people even with their real names can be extremely difficult here. The guy who runs my high school's alumni database was telling me this. He did things like call everyone in their last-known home city with the same last name - and some of them are still disappeared. We also have whole industries built around bill collectors, who are experts at locating people who don't want to be found.

Anonymous said...

Yea, it's a smaller country. And everyone has a personal number here. It's also easy to track people down because we have the principle of free access to public records.