Friendship in the Digital Age

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been two years since I began my journey into the social media universe. It all began with this blog, followed by freelance writing for other online publications, and then twitter, Facebook, Four Square, Gowalla etc. Back in the early days, I didn’t even own a cell phone. Now, if I ever forget my Nexus One at home I feel like I’ve lost a part of myself.

 This has been a whole lot of change in a very short period of time, which has been absorbed with remarkable fluidity into all aspects of my life. As my digital footprint grows daily, I think it’s important to remember what drove me to these platforms in the first place and to use this to motivate me to keep exploring.

 Like many of you, I began reading blogs as a way to kill time during slow periods at work. I then began to participate by commenting on these blogs. I quickly realized, that if I enjoyed these online conversations, I would also enjoy starting some of my own and the Many Faces of Wayne was born.

While the shine has worn off of blogging for me a little (I’m sure many of you can relate) and I now find myself reading, commenting on, and writing fewer and fewer blog posts I was very fortunate to have some very positive experiences early on.

 The most significant of these experiences was becoming friends with Kara (otherwise known as the Post-Fab Princess). My friendship with Kara is unique. She has provided me with creative feedback, emotional support, romantic advice, and fashion tips. We’ve had many long conversations, about feminism, TV shows and films. Both of us have also shared work related trauma and celebrated each other’s successes. We even had drinks together over the Christmas holidays. Kara enjoyed an eggnog martini while I had the Places of Wayne signature martini: the famous “swimming pool drink.”

What makes our friendship different/special is that, in spite of all these very real social interactions, I’ve never heard Kara’s voice. In fact, prior to my acceptance of social media, I would have argued that we hadn’t actually met at all, since we have never been physically in the same room (I now know better.)

 Our friendship began in the blogosphere, through a mutual friend, and because of his blogroll, we began to read and comment on each others blogs. After a few months, this progressed into emails and eventually text messages. It was really the texting that was the game changer because it frequently moved these text based conversations into real-time conversations. This created an immediacy that enabled a unique friendship to develop that I don’t think would have been possible in a prior time.

 It’s true that most humans have always desired social interaction/connection and created tools to facilitate it. Letters have been around for centuries and the telegraph/telephone of the 20th century irrevocably altered the way people communicated with each other. My friendship with Kara shares this basic premise but the tools are different, which changes the experience. We communicate strictly through the written word, but now this can have the same immediacy as a telephone/or real-time conversation. That’s a brand new phenomenon! The positive is that both extraverts (because of the immediacy) and the introvert (because of the introspection that comes from writing) can both get the rewards from social interaction they are looking for.

 My friendship with Kara has endured, but both our blogging has been substantially reduced. Kara has shutdown her blog (Pudding and the Post-fab Princess) and these days I struggle to produce a blog post a month. Yet, I am thankful that my foray into this new digital world allowed me to make a new friend. I can’t think of a better measurement of success than that.

Anyone else out there have a similar story? 

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9 responses to “Friendship in the Digital Age

  1. post-fab princess

    Wayne, I think having never had an in-person conversation with me is for the best. Sterling can tell you what a chore that actually is! heh heh

    When my hubbie read this post he thought it was kinda funny that I had a present-day friend that HE had never met/spoken to. But then again, he only just entered the digi-com era. I pushed him, truth be told, with a Christmas gifted iphone. And now? Let’s just say he is the King of the Aps! [Not to be confused with Tarzan.]

  2. post-fab princess

    ^ and what a nice post, BTW. Cheers!

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed it! Sounds like your husband will be out in the digital world in no time. Maybe he could start a Pudding and the Post-Fab King of the Aps blog? 🙂

  4. nadinethornhill

    My first foray into digital friendships was over ten years ago, back when The MoMs and I were planning our wedding. We had just moved to Ottawa and putting together a wedding in Toronto, necessitated a lot of online time. One day I stumbled across a relatively new website, that included a bulletin board where a handful of would-be brides and grooms, discussed their various plans. It wasn’t too long until the topics of “conversation” deviated from “all things wedding”, to all things period. There were a group of eight women from Ottawa. We “talked” online everyday for two years, until finally someone arranged a bruch. When we met in person, it was as though we’d known each other for years, which of course, we had.

  5. I can’t even begin to list the number of people I’ve “met” through Twitter. Many of these have developed into a face-to-face, especially with all my travels. And yes, it’s like we’ve known each other forever. This weekend I’ll be staying int MTL with an artistic director and his gf whom I both met online.

  6. PS. Blog more! I still read.

  7. That sounds like a great digital connection you made Nancy. Have fun in Montreal and thanks for the blogging encouragement!

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