Are Online Friendships Real?
Are Online Friendships Real? I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for ages. Years, actually. Better late than never, right?
When you first hear those awful words, you have cancer; it sometimes feels as if you are alone in the whirlwind of cancer chaos. No matter how many loved ones surround you, there is often still a sense of isolation.
Of course, you realize plenty of others before you have walked in cancer shoes; but all of a sudden, it’s your turn to stumble around in them. You realize you have no idea how you’re ever going to ‘stand up straight’ much less walk with confidence in these ‘ill-fitting shoes’ again.
And then one day (or one night ‘cuz sleep is no longer your friend), you find yourself online discovering a whole new world of support opening up for you.
It might be via a blog (like this one, hopefully), or it might be through Facebook. It might be on Twitter, TikTok, or Instagram. The venue isn’t important, but the connections you make are.
Without a doubt, my online interaction has been a beacon in the darkness that is cancer, one of them anyway. And let’s be honest, we need as many beacons as possible to help illuminate the way through the cancer maze. It’s not realistic, or even fair, to expect loved ones to carry the full load of support.
It makes me sad to think how women (and men) in generations before us suffered, and so much of the time, they did so in silence. It makes me sad to think that many still do.
What if you weren’t able to talk with others about cancer much, or even at all?
Imagine not sharing with and supporting others who’ve been there or are who where you are now.
Think about the feelings of loneliness and despair that kind of isolation could potentially stir up or magnify.
Thankfully, today at least many of us do not have to go it alone.
In-person support groups can be great, of course; but there’s something special about being able to find another welcoming “voice” out there 24/7 while sitting at home in the dark, in your pjs, in front of your computer screen or while clutching your phone.
The sharing that goes on is phenomenal. It’s a lifeline like none other.
The great thing is that everyone shares from a different vantage point. Everyone’s voice is unique. Some of us are cancer newbies, and some of us have a bit of experience under our cancer belts.
Everyone’s cancer resume is different. There is much to learn from one another and tons of support to offer and/or receive. The gifts of understanding, compassion and guidance are doled out on a daily and nightly basis. We are a diverse group, each of us from our own little corner of the globe sharing experiences, opinions, fears, frustrations, advice and yes gripes. We are different, and yet, we are similar. Cancer Havers share a bond like none other.
Yes, online support is a wonderful thing. All you have to do is reach out. It’s there. It’s worth the reach. If you haven’t reached out yet, I recommend that you do. I promise you will not be sorry.
When you do, something surprising will happen; well, it was surprising to me anyway in the beginning. Some of the people you interact with online will become your friends, in every sense of the word.
Of course, the downside of interacting online, or in person, in Cancer Land is that the inevitable happens; people you come to know and care about die. This has happened more times then I care to count.
You might want to read, How Many Times Can Our Hearts Break?
Losing friends, online or otherwise, is hard. The heartache is real.
So, why don’t I pull back?
I can’t. I won’t. The friendships mean too much.
Sure, some people don’t consider online friendships to be real. I say, that’s their loss.
What makes a friend a friend anyway?
Are online friendships real?
We all have our own “what makes a friend requirements,” but as for the second question, there’s no doubt in my mind that the answer is an emphatic, yes. I know it to be true.
I know it because in the end, it doesn’t matter how many times you and a friend get together for lunch, how many text messages you exchange or how many phones calls you make to one another.
It doesn’t matter if you never meet.
Genuine friendship is not based on such things. True friendship is something more. It’s something you cannot see, touch or measure; it’s an intangible thing. But when you experience it, you know it’s real, and you know it’s something special.
I am grateful every day for the friends I have met and grown to care about online. Some of my best friends “live” in my computer.
There’s no doubt in my mind; online support and friendships are real indeed.
You might want to read, When Bloggers Meet.
Do you think online friendships are real?
What’s one thing you look for in any friend?
How do your online friends help you navigate your cancer maze?
Have you met any of your online friends and if so, what was that like?
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