Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. It is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association. — Wikipedia
Roughly Ten Years Ago
Futuristic friendship comes from the web now.
Not so long ago, we would meet our new friends on the school grounds. We would meet some at our work or bookstore, at a coffee shop, and it would be something physical.
Now, it has changed. Something in us shifted. It’s like reversing, and we must adapt to new types of friendships…or maybe that’s just me?
For introverts, the introduction to chats on the Internet or forums made it easier to express themselves.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m one of those! I am not comfortable speaking to people or elaborating vocally on subjects. Social gatherings, for me, are of minimal importance.
Introverts Are Coming Out
I view social interactions as handicapped and futile. I fill out my social obligations and then retreat. It takes me up to a week to recover from social events. They are quite draining for me.
When chats came into existence, people like me could find each other and exchange in a manner that we found acceptable. It was a real opportunity. It took off social anxiety and replaced it with the comfort of our homes.
Today, once a haven for introverts, it is becoming a place where meeting people of many masks is conventional.
Play Nice BUT THINK TWICE
My mother taught me to play nice with others. Sometimes I wonder if she would have reinforced that “rule” if she had met two friends I had. Let’s call them X and Y. They are kind people, don’t get me wrong, but work and friends don’t mix well.
The new era of online friending became harder to handle as social media grew. Now, it takes a higher percentage of our lives every second that passes. We are continually trying to keep up with the new demands.
Facebook alone acquired MSN and created Messenger. While it does have its positive points, common sense becomes a necessity.
Introverts who feel safe now find it harder to evaluate people: are they a good match to my personality? Harder to see when faceless.
Who can see who is playing and who isn’t? Four years ago, I met a client who became a friend and introduced me to her relative, who acquainted me to another friend.
One of them is now one of my closest confidants. I can tell him anything and share anything. He is one of my greatest inspirations and a faithful friend. I know he would take it to his grave.
He is unique and very wise when it comes to my many habits. He often put me back together after a fight with X and Y. He was present at my wedding, and I wouldn’t change him for the world.
Keyboard and Mouse
Online friendships are just as valid as those in the physical world. The words touch us, create bonds beyond physical touch, and make us laugh and cry.
There is no difference, except thirty years ago, I wouldn’t have had friends in the USA or Europe. Now, I do.
It is beautiful to break down the walls and has no more obstacles to uniting people. However, the hurt it can bring when that friendship ends is no less painful than those you can touch.
Chatting, video chats, and visits are three steps to complete the circle of creating a solid online friendship. They are steps that open your heart more to the experience. You worked for that friendship harder than most. The fall is, therefore, higher as well.
When meeting X and Y, I thought we would be friends forever. But it quickly fell apart when I noticed lies crept in, and I wondered if all they did was adopt my personality and make it their own.
When creating Gothic Bite Magazine, they wanted to be a part of it and said they were gothic, but they weren’t. I saw the first red flag but ignored it.
Cybernetic Friendship Break-Up
The hurt when X and Y decided that my work for them wasn’t worth the money despite their agreement worried me. I was present for them for over four years and helped them build their website, platform, and videos.
I taught them techie routines they’d need to know to become an online presence as fantasy writers and authors. They repeatedly commissioned me for artwork, which should’ve been enough to prove I was an excellent online freelancer.
I taught them how to be good online bloggers and reporters. I supervised them because my editor, Tara M. Clapper, owner of The Geek Initiative, noticed they copied and pasted from Wikipedia. One also had a naughty habit of exaggerating the truth when speaking of her experiences. They would also often use parts of other articles to write their reviews.
X and Y thought otherwise. X and Y didn’t understand that website building is not a fixed price but an hourly rate. So, the battle started roughly a month prior to our ‘friendship divorce’ with keyboards and a mouse. An online friendship that ended in the vast online universe that is the Internet.
The Aftermath of an Introvert
Online friendships are no different than regular ones. Once, we used letters, then phones, and now texts and chats. Once, we used a home camera with VHS to tape gatherings. Now we either use video chat or smartphones.
The intentions and personalities of people remain the same.
The bottom line is, for the introvert that I am, the only way I found to explain my friendship with X and Y is this: Like an android, i.e., an artificial intelligent computerised machine, I’m used to people being part of my external day-to-day routine.
I have grown accustomed to the presence of certain people, whether they are good or bad. I have specific external interactions with people, and it’s harder for me to integrate a new algorithm and delete the presence I am accustomed to without disturbing my current operating system.
I know it’s a strange way to explain it, but I relate more to Mr. Data or Pam from True Blood as a vampire than another human. I’m a nocturnal creature with a particular routine and interacting regulation.
I’m territorial and, most of the time, quiet, but I need my support, and when I must remove someone, that void is screaming at me because of my OCD. I must fill the void.
Error! Corrupted Friendship File
Some advice that I received was wise. Other online friends say I should see it as an upgrade on my operating system. I believe it to be true. It takes time to adjust to the new routine.
Online or in the real world, friendship is something to be cautious about so that we don’t end up with broken trust. Online or not, emotions are part of being human and are harder to control and upgrade.
Do not get me wrong. It’s been a while. Like a vampire, I have a long memory, and my many mental illnesses don’t allow me to forget. But they also keep hurting me to this day.
People online can find ways to creep in, and despite cutting the toxicity out of your life, they don’t go away. I know they keep an eye on me by stalking me through other means. But I am a vampire, and vampires are resilient.
Like in the physical world, be careful whose hand you hold and when it’s time to fold. This happened eight years ago, but X and Y were a big part of my life then.
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