When we consider the depth of the internet, we often foment shallow thoughts of the world compressing time and space as we become more distant from each other.  We reach for tethers and tendrils and often come up with an empty grasp.


A friend of mine recently lamented it had been over 20 years since we had been in touch and I found his argument curious because we exchange lengthy emails at least once a week.

He was looking back on the old days when we’d get together in New York City for a healthy dinner when he was visiting from California.

My friend is now retired and his schedule doesn’t allow frequent coastal visits and my schedule is more densely packed with both petty and persnickety things that pull my time and tide into the narrow depths of my work.

When I mentioned we were in email contact at least weekly, he told me it wasn’t the same thing as sitting together, live and in person, at a restaurant.

I asked him if we would still be in contact without email.

He was quiet.

I asked him if we’d be on the phone together every week if we didn’t have email.

He remained quiet.

I wondered if we’d still know each other after being separated by two decades and 3,000 miles of compressed contexts without the internet to bind together our remaining tendrils?

I asked if we should accept the doable virtual friendship or do we reject technology and only accept physical separation and its decaying hope and cleaving yearning?

My friend admitted that, without the internet, we would have fallen out of touch long ago.  He understood it was the virtual that now bound us — and without that ether keeping us close — we would no longer be friends.

How do you feel?  Do we belong to each other only in person or can we keep a friendship virtually forever?

11 Comments

  1. As our entire relationship has been virtual, I am all for virtual relationships having the possibility of being just as strong in most aspects as non-virtual ones. Mind you, I’d love to sit across from you with a cup of coffee and a couple of bears, but if that never happened I could go on 🙂

  2. David
    It seems in today’s world we are so busy living our lives that we hardly take time to go to a coffee shop with our tangible friends. The virtual world allows us to extend a little bit of our time (what time is left to us) to communicate with our friends. To let them know that they are still on our minds.
    Another bonus to the virtual world is that we have the capability to meet new friends. I’ve never met you. Without this wonderful virtual world the friendship we have barely started would not have existed at all.
    What a tragedy that would be! Then I would miss out on all the cool blogs that are the “Highlight” of my day!

  3. I appreciate you comments, Heartmelody69, and I agree the virtual can be just as warn and intimate as the in-person visit. We are blood and bone — but now we are also bits and bytes in the ether. Are they equal in substance yet? Not quite — but I think soon they will be and the ethereal “us” will then begin to outweigh the breathable form.

  4. Yes David, the ethereal “us” has actually already begun to out weigh the “blood and bone’ us. Many are like me … it’s easy to open up and say what’s in your heart when we are not actually looking someone eye to eye. There is a certain freedom that comes with the virtual friendship:-)

  5. Hi David,
    10 years back, I would have echoed your friend’s words.
    In fact, I would have probably dismissed the idea of having a “great virtual frinedship” under the sun. Friendship was nothing but “in person/ spending time/ having fun” together.
    But on this date, I can say I keep in touch with a significant number of my friends through Facebook, I keep in touch with my professional network through LinkedIn and I would surely say I made a few life long friendship through internet – people I never met but good friends.
    Everything changes with time, so should we.