28 Feb 2012

The Strange Phenomenon of Internet Friendships

It struck me as rather strange the other day that I have a bunch of "friends" who I exchange banter with online, who I've never met, and am never likely to meet.

It comes from using a couple of travel and photography-related websites (specifically Wanderlust and Flickr), as well as Facebook. I put up photos or questions and comments on others' posts and they do the same. With some of them we exchange mails. Quite a few of them, it turns out, have blue roan cocker spaniels. It's all very strange.

At least with Wanderlust I've actually met some of them, as the site exists on the back of the travel magazine of the same name, and they often host travel-related events, or just arrange get-togethers at travel shows. I've even met a couple of them separately now, and consider them to be "real" friends.

I just wonder how many other people around the world are connected in such a strange and new way, that would've been fairly unimaginable ten or fifteen years ago. At the very least we would have been scared of becoming friends with complete strangers. A whole new generation will grow up not knowing anything different, being friends with strangers (not to mention being able to use a phone or the internet anywhere) and thinking that this is always the way it's been.

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