When I started book blogging, over 2 years ago now, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t really fully understand what blogging – dedicated blogging – entailed and I wasn’t aware of how big the whole blogging community was. I’ve met a ton of people online; bloggers and authors. Some are acquaintances, some I no longer speak to, some I don’t get along with and others who have become firm friends. Not only did I not understand how many people there were to meet in the blogging world, I also didn’t understand quite how important having online friends would be to me.
As most of you know, blogger and author Lynsey James and I met through blogging. We got to know each other more and more and can now call ourselves best friends. I’ve been lucky enough to meet her twice now, soon to be 3 times in November. I value mine and Lynsey’s friendship a lot but there’s no doubting that there’s a slight stigma attached to having friends online. So I wanted to talk about why my online friendships are important and why they shouldn’t be frowned upon.
1. They have no previous judgement of you
Although you can talk to your online friends about things that have happened in your past – things you’ve done, things you regret and things you wished could be different, they weren’t there to witness it. The judgement between you is a lot, lot less I’ve found and it’s refreshing to start with a completely clean slate with someone.
2. You can meet people from all over the world
As most of you know, bloggers are everywhere. Everywhere. Through the power of blogging and social media, you can meet a whole range of people from all over the world, learn new things and if you’re very lucky, even get the chance to travel somewhere new. I know people from Scotland, Wales, Switzerland and all around the UK.
3. Just because you may have never met, doesn’t mean your friendship is any less real
I’ve had some of the most fun online chatting to my friends from all over and just because I’ve never met them, doesn’t mean they mean any less to me. I’d like to think the people I’m close to online always know I’m here for them if they’re going through a hard time or just need a chat.
4. But having online friends doesn’t mean you care about your real life friends and family any less either
The thing is with online, you’re probably going to be a hell of a lot more people than you could offline because let’s face it, there are thousands upon thousands of bloggers out there! But just how your relationship with your boyfriend is different from your relationship with your best friend. Your online and offline friendships will be slightly different too.
5. You can easily find likeminded people
If you’re a book blogger, chances are 100% of other book bloggers are going to love books. Blogging and making friends online through a shared love of whatever the both of you are doing makes it a lot easier to find new friends and acquaintances as you already have something in common.
I took the question to Twitter and here’s what some people had to stay about how much their online friendships mean to them and whether they think there’s a stigma attached to it:
@angelwhispers_: “I value my online friendships every bit as much as my ‘face-to-face’ ones. Why not?! It’s a chance to reach out to people. I feel there’s a great deal of stigmatisation and ignorance about online friendships and I don’t understand it. I hate when people (who, btw, probably use the Internet themselves) go on about ‘getting offline and meeting real people’. It can offer a voice to some of this societies most side-lined members. They can have a ‘virtual megaphone’. So, If we can use this wonderful tool to achieve all these things, why not friendships, dating, meeting like-minded people?”
@littl3b00ts: “I value them as sometimes because you’ve never met they can give the best unbiased advice. I’d also love to meet my online friends too!”
@UnderToWonder: “I technically started seeing my partner (of 4 years) through the internet. Some of the people I regard as my best friends I haven’t actually even met yet – some I may never as they live across the other side of the world. The great thing about internet friendships is that they are real. You get a chance to meet people you wouldn’t usually, people who share your interests. You don’t just have them as friends because they’re there like in school/work because you genuinely connect with them!”
@AvidReaderBlog: “There’s definitely a stigma to meeting people online but the people I’ve met are some of the best people I’ve ever known. They understand me better and are some of the kindest people ever. They’re absolutely wonderful!”