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Great relationships — online or off

“Can online friendships can really exist? Is it really possible?”

I was challenged with this question recently by a seasoned communications professional. Here’s more or less how the rest of the conversation went:

Me: I have folks across the globe that I have never met and yet whom I consider to be friends. Others have become trusted face-to-face friends, too, after being online friends first.

She: Were there any surprises when you actually met?

Me: [Surprises? Think, think… Have there been any surprises? I’ve been doing online work for so very long, since about 1995, that I’ve forgotten what it felt like for it to be “strange.”] Uh, no, actually, now that you mention it!

She: Not even about what they looked like?

Me: [That one’s really easy.] No. Usually, though not always, I’d seen pictures of them already.

She: [Her turn to blink in surprise.]

Sensational deception makes for great stories, but I hear little about the vast majority of real relationships that grow through the seeds of digital penmanship. Really, what’s the difference between digital pen pals today and ballpoint pen pals of the days of yore? Even marriages, many of them successful, come out of connections that first happen online! On the flip side, it is quite possible to be deceived in a face-to-face friendship, so it seems there are no guarantees there, either.

A great friendship depends on the people in it, not the medium they use.

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How about you? What do you think? Have you had any surprises (either good or bad) when you’ve met someone in person after first communicating with them digitally?

About Erin Anne Beirne

I use storytelling and "content marketing" to promote my clients' work. I develop and implement communications strategies using all the on- and offline tools and media at our disposal, publish books and ebooks and market them internationally, or even just simply create a new website and teach the client how to run it. If you have something interesting to say, a valuable service to offer, or an important cause to promote, I'd love to work with you, too!

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