How to tell if your digital pals are fair-weathered.
This article is letter (F) of our “Future Content” series where we write an article for each letter of the phrase. “Future Content” explores what the future may hold for your online content. Find links to more articles in the series below.
If you’re of the younger generation, you’ve most likely made an online friend or two while cruising the internet. If you’re of the more mature generations, you may be scratching your head in complete confusion as to how you can call someone you’ve never met “a friend.” Are online friends fake? Or are they real? Let’s find out.
What Is An Online Friend?
Some argue online friends can never be a true friend. Others swear the connections they’ve made online are precious. Like with all things in our technological world, the definition of a friend is changing. Teens and children, the Digital Natives (those born during or after the introduction of digital technology), can and do make friends online they consider real.
One teacher recounts his experiences of how Digital Natives form online friendships. Teens do not distinguish between friends they made online and friends they know in real life. Instead, they refer to their online friends as, “This guy I know in Maine...” or “My friend in Italy...” A teen would take great offense if you even hinted their online friends were less than real. Are there tells or ways to detect these fake friends?
You’ve Got A Friend In Me
Regardless if you met someone online or not, a friend that adds positively to our social world usually fulfills certain needs in our lives, are there for us, and listen.
“Nearly 40% of teens said they met someone online who went on to become a good friend. Teens go on to report these online friendships as having a positive social influence in their lives and that these relationships make them feel good about themselves.”
A true friend…
1. Supports you in all your endeavors
2. Forgives you for anything
3. Accepts your dorky side
4. Always has your back
5. Constantly keeps in contact
6. Keeps your secrets
7. Regularly make time for you
Looking at this list, all of these things can be done across a screen. What about a puzzle or game to see if you can tell what is real and fake online. Emotional and social support does not always need a physical presence.
Let’s Meet IRL
But if you do become close enough friends online, what usually happens is people want to meet up irl. Why not? Even if its just for a quick drink or coffee, this will only strengthen your bond together. Gizmodo gives some tips on meeting up with an internet buddy and not falling into awkwardness. There are words or phrases that can help you detect the real from the fake.
Do A Group Meetup
It can awkward if it’s just two of you as there may be a lot of pressure to keep the conversation going. A group meetup can keep things more lively as there are just simply more people in the mix.
Meet In Public
Of course, we’re still talking strangers on the internet here. So don’t let your guard down entirely yet and just open your house’s front door for them. Meeting somewhere like a bar or restaurant will go over well.
The digital age is amazing in that we can now connect with people we would have never even crossed paths with. Who says an internet pal can’t graduate to being a real life friend, too?
This article is part of our “Future Content" series where we write an article for each letter of the phrase. “Future Content” explores what the future may hold for your online content.
Click below to read more articles in the “Future Content” series: