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An analysis of online friendships

Internet has changed the way of life of many people .

Most of us do have chat friends ... but for me and my wing mates , the relationship with them were at a very nascent stage until we got net access in our rooms in September 2002. After that we made full use of the free time available  to spend more time with the "virtual" friends. This article draws from our experiences.

Many issues do crop up. Firstly one must check whether the person on the other side is actually the person he/she claims to be. Failure to do this can lead to rather embarassing consequences. I mean that when you tell a girl to meet you to watch a film wearing a pink coloured dress, and you go and find out that it was a prank played on you by your friends ... it can really hurt your ego. :p

Now comes the case when we are reasonably sure of the authenticity of the other party (why does this line remind me of MANAC ? ) . Now there seems to be two categories of people.

1. They distinguish between real and online friends. They treat online friends as aquantainces to pass their time with and consciously keep their real friends at a higher pedestal.

2. These people do not make such a distinction. They seem to believe that the essence of friendship is effective communication, heart to heart. Meeting face to face is not a prerequisite for that.

I feel compatibility issues crop up between people belonging to different categories. The people of category 1 take a longer time to trust the others. You join college and meet your hostel mates for the first time and you are ready to tell them your cell number but you are hesitant to tell someone with whom you have talked for hours. This can potentially create a bit of resentment within the other person. These two people do find it a little difficult to relate.

Lack of physical interaction can create other problems. Suppose you said something to a "real" friend. If that person does not respond, you can physically confront him/her. But if you find that your online buddy is not responding to mails or sms', you become hesitant to press further. You are never really sure whether the person belongs to category 1 or 2. You can seldom know with any degree of certainty what that person thinks of you, beyond what you are told by the person himself. So you hesitate in exercising your rights as a friend. People err on the side of caution.

So ... these are few of the problems. What are the solutions ? No idea.

Note 1 : Real and virtual friends are used to refer to non-online and online friends and they do not, in any way, comment on the intensity and quality of the relationship.
Note 2 : Two classes of Individual Dynamics and i am analysing friendships. Wow !! :p

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