I read a great piece today written by Michael Waters about the validity of online friendships. He said, “In the five years that I’ve been active online, I have never viewed the Internet as an alternative to my in-person world, but rather as an extension of it.”
Maybe because I’m an introvert and a somewhat gregarious one (yes, you CAN be both introverted and NOT shy), I am completely on-board with Waters’ view of online relationships. It’s often easier for me to virtually put pen-to-paper than mouth-and-ear-to-phone. I find that keeping in touch with my far-flung friends and family is mostly enhanced by connecting with them through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other social media.
It might also be that as a writer and photographer, I find what people write and post to be an additional way of gaining insight into others. Hardly anyone writes snail mail anymore, and so sites like Facebook provide me with details and updates I wouldn’t have otherwise. In several instances, friendly acquaintances have become unexpected and treasured friends because we’ve discovered common interests or shared takes on the world.
I say kudos for you if you’re making social media work for you. By all means, give all your on- and off-line commitments serious thought, but in the end, do what works for you and those you care about. Figure out what’s best in getting to know others and in being knowable yourself, and don’t allow others to sit in judgement of your thoughtful and personal choices.