Friendship: Defined (The Online World)
What is a friend?
We all have them. They are different things to different people, but what is it about some people that we gravitate towards, while repelling away from others? Perhaps it is having similar interests to oneself, heck thats why the WoW playing base grew to be 12 million strong at one point. Perhaps its ones personality, being a social butterfly, a recluse, or somewhere it the middle of the pack that stands out to someone. Its interesting to think in our online world how people can vary drastically while have the one large denominator (playing the game itself) in common. We all see these people in the game on a daily (and sometimes more frequently than we would like to) basis. The elitists, the RPers, the trade trolls, et al. But its not about the types of people we encounter, its why we choose them as friends. And more importantly separation and classification that comes with friendships. The concept that sticks out to me the most with friendships is this concept:
He/She is an Online Friend, But (another) He/She is a Real Life Friend
This concept puzzles, nay baffles, me. It does not make sense to me how somebody can classify someone as an online friend, as opposed to a real life friend. Does that mean when you hit the log-off button for the night on your online based game that that person is gone? That any residual interactions you have had with them are suddenly gone and mean absolutely nothing? I find it very hard to believe (in my case) that all of the interactions between friends fades away, and that some things don’t stick and have meaning in some way, shape or form. It all boils down to trust and respect, without it, you really having nothing (and certainly not friendship) between two people, especially over the internet. The great thing about developing friendships online is that a lot of online friendships have meetups where you can actually see these people you interact with, such as Blizzcon, Comicon, etc. You get to finally meet these people and grow your friendships you have been developing for months or years. And its nice to be able to do things with your friends that doesn’t have to be concentric with the circle of being video game based.
I am a firm believer that the person who you interact with from behind the computer while playing is the exact same person that they are outside of the game. And why should they be any different from advertised? Granted, we all know there are some people who are boisterous in their claims, such as: “I’m 6’2″ 210lbs and spend 8 hours at the gym each day. Jealous?”, only to find out upon meeting them they are 5’6″ 240 lbs, and wear ripped and faded clothing to functions like that. There’s no reason to front like that, and all that happens when you do something like that is DESTROY your credibility as a person. Thats why I believe that most people who do go to those meet ups are genuine and their friendships they create with those other individuals are heartfelt and honest.
After playing this game for 6 years, I am happy to have a few handfuls of people that I consider true friends, and as an added bonus I have met a handful or so of them as well. These are friends that respect me. Friends that trust me. Friends that confide in me. Friends who are appreciative of what I do for them as a friend. And in the same vein, I appreciate them, I trust, respect and confide in them. Distance and webspace will never alter interactions no matter how significant or insignificant, they are REAL. They HAPPEN.
So, how does friendship work for you in an online space? Do you set people into castes of friendships, such as online and real life? Do you keep your friendships strictly to the game, or does it spread over into facets of real life?
The internet is a great tool for bringing people together, and I am very appreciative of the people I have been fortunate enough to get to know at that level because of it. I certainly look forward to where my friendships go from here.