PK: I would say, of course they can be. True friends are people you want/need to talk to. They listen, they care, they encourage and they may occasionally kick your butt. When something good, or bad, happens they are the first ones you want to tell. Everything about your cyber friends and the people you see daily is the same, including the pain when they pull away or don't seem to want to talk as much. This may be worse with cyber friends because you often have no idea what's happened.
Lil Misses: My husband is also a super geek. As a matter of fact, he's in his office right now coding away for some project that is due on Monday. He too has a best friend that he never sees and only talks to on occasion.
It has so much to do with our differences as men and women. We women were built for intimate connections. We need each other on a deeper level that just is not necessary for men.
In today's world, we make fewer connections outside our home and instead opt for the safety of our online community. While making friends IRL is wonderful, we cannot fully bare our souls to them because of our tendency to guess at others' motives, read between lines, mind read, and generally distrust each other. Body language and voice tonality play a huge part in it. I believe it's something we learn in school. Our very best friend that we've known for all of 10 minutes calls us out in front of the whole class and embarrassment ensues, etc. We become guarded. We learn to keep things to ourselves.
When online, those secret parts that make us who we are can come out. We find acceptance and love, the cornerstones of friendship. The support we give each other is immeasurable. We don't have to wear a mask. We don't have to pretend. We can just be. We share advice. We love. We build those deep, intimate, soul-sharing connections that a true friendship should be made of. Well, that's my two cents anyway...
Minelle Labraun: I feel like saying, “Yep, what PK said!”
Friendship is being there for the other person through hard times as well as good times. Not giving up when you are hurt or confused.
I agree it is hard when cyber friends pull away since you are not able to see what is wrong. You often beat yourself up wondering...
However, the rewards are many since the friends are often found through the heart.
Pocahontas Smith: I have made some very dear friends in blog land and they are closer to me than face to face friends. There's an intimacy that is created when you are just you and the foundation of that friendship is pure honestly. It's sad actually that our day-to-day friendships aren't this way (for the most part).
Alais' Heart: A few of my closest friends are entirely online friendships. Friendship is not only an experience of mutual activities. It's primarily an intellectual and emotional experience. One doesn't need a body in the room to hold such exchanges. However, it has to be said that sharing the intimacies of activities adds a dimension that can't be replaced by the internet. A hug when you really need one or seeing a person smiles and hearing their voice when they say something you might not want to hear imparts a loving experience that cannot exist only via internet friendships. Therefore, I don't have exclusively internet friendships. I need a physical presence within friendship experiences also. A balance has seemed necessary for me.
I think this also applies to internet power exchanges and erotic relationships. Something will be missing from them that including a physical exchange cannot replace. It is up to the individual to find avenues for those needs to be met and they are indeed genuine human needs for physical interactions.
Hermione: I completely agree that cyber friends can be as close as - if not closer than - real world friends. They are only a click away, and you can portray yourself in whatever way you want to. In cyberland, I can be the person I could never dare to be in real life. I can choose cyber friends who share my interests, and depending on the interest, it often isn't easy in real life.
The downside to all this is that you never really know what your cyber friends are really like. Most of the time they are pretty much what they seem, but there can be the odd person out there who totally misrepresents him or herself, for various reasons. There can be unfortunate consequences if you aren't careful.
Daisy: I agree with Hermione. I read a blog for a long time, and really thought it was a real person. When I later discovered it was a fantasy blog, which the person had not disclosed for reasons best known to herself, I felt dreadfully hurt. I have never been able to read that blog again, even though it is now openly a fantasy blog. It made me more reserved and careful as to where I placed my trust.
But, I have made some good friends here, and I DO trust that they are as sincere as I am. I do really care about all of my blog friends and really worry when some vanish from the radar without saying they are going.
It is sad, but "real" friends have to be kept in the dark about more personal stuff such as TTWD.
I guess, real friends are closer in a physical supportive sense, but cyber friends are closer on an intimate, spiritual, sense... both types can be close emotionally.
Chickie: Absolutely! I have laughed out loud, winced, squirmed, shed tears, and felt like cyber-punching the one who needs to be run over by the karma bus. I've shared things I've never shared before and things very few people know. We are forced to hide behind an anonymous veil for the safety and privacy of ourselves and our families. Just this morning I ran to write what happened instead of blabbing to a real-world friend because I can't share with any of them like that. I feel like most any group of us could get together for real and hit it off like good friends. It's funny like that though. Someone you've never met, yet bared your entire soul to. It just feels close even though its not necessarily a two way street or even having a clue what the other looks like.
Joeyred: Many of my virtual friends are also real life friends. I have met many at events which I find enhances the virtual relationship. In fact, they are often the subject of my posts.
I also have many virtual-only friends who are terrific.
Reece Seever: Hermione and Chickadee's responses point out a very interesting (to me anyway) paradox regarding friendships, both real and virtual, and the extent to which both depend in large part on being less than fully honest about who we are. We don't tell our "real" friends about all our kinks and quirks, because we are afraid they would reject us if we did. On the other hand, we often tell our virtual friends all those secrets we hid from our real world friends, but we keep them in the dark regarding every other aspect of our personal identities. Yet, despite, and to a large extent because of, the deceptions, both sets of relationships work.
Anastasia Vitsky: The biggest advantage of cyber friendship is bridging geographic distance. I used to have an international pen pal. We sent airmail letters to each other once or twice a month. It was a wonderful arrangement, but it took a great deal of time (and stamps!). Today, I can instantly be connected with people all over the world and have communication through social media sites, blogs, emails, IMs, etc. It's expensive and difficult to travel to visit friends in person, but no matter where I move, I will have email with me. Plus, as someone who tends more toward the writing than talking, the internet has been a safe haven for me.
Of course, the convenience of the internet applies equally to people with good and bad intentions, and hurtful people are also instantly able to tap into broad connections online.
But overall, I have found cyber friendships to be enriching, affirming, and even life-sustaining. I'd point to Spankful for Bas Day as one example (not to mention Bonnie Appreciation Day!) of a testament to the connections made online.
Roz: I agree that cyber friends can be as close, if not closer than friends in the real world because we tend to share much more, or different things with our cyber friend. We are also probably more open with our feelings than with real life friends.
By the same token, we also share some aspects of our life with real life friends that we wouldn't share with cyber friends. It's the paradox of the different relationships.
Bea: I think we share things here that we can't share anywhere else. At the same time it would be easy to misrepresent yourself in print. I guess it all depends on how honest a person is.
Aaron Christopher: My online friends have almost always been closer to me than my "real life" friends. Obviously, part of the reason is that online you seeking people with common interests to interact with instead of just random people you meet, so it's easier to make close friends in that fashion.
I also come from a large, supportive family, so any need for physical contact has always been met by my parents and siblings. But my closest friend is several states away. It doesn't matter. We're glued to the hip via our keyboards and cell phones.
Fiona: I think there can be wonderful friendships in cyber land. They can be deep and fulfilling. I suppose, like IRL, when you click with the right person whether you are a friend IRL or across the net doesn't matter.
Renee Rose: My online friends feel just as real to me and I felt just as much support from them when my mom died as I did from R/L friends.
Plus we share this secret of our intimate spanko fantasies, which naturally makes us feel close...
Ronnie: For me, the answer is yes. I have friends in cyber space who are dearer and closer to me than friends in real life. We've swapped photos of family and I've shared things I'd never tell family and face to face friends. It does worry me that the person isn't who they say they are, but as you get to know your cyber friends, I think you can tell if they are honest and real.
I've only met one cyber friend, but hope in the coming year to meet many more of my friends here.
Kia Cera: It's a lot easier to open up online, knowing that they won't be there the next morning to compare your cyber self to your daily life self. It's difficult to share deeper thoughts and open myself to judgment from those I need to work with in a relationship of mutual respect for the foreseeable future. As others have pointed out, there are certainly risks involved, but with a bit of caution and common sense, the benefits far outweigh them. The people I've met online have become friends in a way that isn't practical with people I interact with daily face to face.
That being said, the few occasions where geography and personalities allow for meeting of online friends in person are some of my most treasured memories.
Our Shared Bliss: Depending on the type of relationship, I think cyber friends can be as close as those in the real world. As others have stated, I think it's easier to open up online and share some of the things that we would never dream of revealing in the real world. I know this is the case for me. It's very nice to to be able to give and receive support, especially when the topic is not so vanilla. All in all, I think it can go both ways. It is much easier to be open and honest when eye contact is taken out of the equation. :) And of course helping others feels good no matter whether it's a cyber relationship or a real world one.
Welcome OSB! I'm delighted to see you here at brunch.
Jenny: It is a different relationship, but one that can be quite close, if you define "close" as sharing parts of oneself. It is often easier to reveal private thoughts about desiring a spanking to an online friend, where the risk is somewhat lessened by the privacy this medium offers.
One of the real risks of sharing my spanking interest with my best "real life" friend is that she might tell another friend and soon enough everyone will know! I would not want casual friends who don't understand this lifestyle to find out about this and think of me as a "freak." Heaven forbid if a coworker found out!
My cyber friends tend to come from the group of people who like this sort of thing, so they would not think of this as juicy gossip to share with others online. And my cyber friends do not interact with my real life friends and family - well, at least not as far as I know!
Having said that, it has been quite an education to share ideas with an online email friend who I met through the old Spankfinder website. We've been corresponding for close to two years now - about general life events as well as spanking topics. He's given me great insight into how men think - and I thought I had a good understanding before we started to chat. I don't know if we would ever meet in person because we live on different continents and I fear that meeting in person might ruin our online friendship. (That seems like a good topic for a future Brunch - "Would you ever want to meet your online friends in person? Have you ever done that? What effect did meeting have on the online relationship?")
BTW, I consider these "online friends" to be people I met due to our mutual interest in spanking, not in the context of becoming a potential mate. That is an entirely different subject and those relationships start out with quite a different dynamic.
Marie Pinkerton: Definitely! I work from home, and most of my communication with friends is via email or instant messaging. My friends live in different states, and we don't have the opportunity to visit with each other. While I met them in "real life," if it wasn't for cyber communications, our friendships would probably have lapsed.
That said, I do agree with the others who said that it's easier to share our kink with online friends than with in-person friends. It's easier to tell a friend you like to be spanked when you don't have to see the judgment on their faces. :)
George K: I am somewhat new to the on-line community, but I have found it to be a most caring and supporting group. The friends I am getting to know are special to me for sure.
It's an interesting paradox how we withhold things different things from each group for different reasons.
I also have close personal friends and although we do not get to interact daily, they are also special to me and I care for them a great deal.
I do have one real life friend from which I have no secrets and that friendship is definitely unique from all the others.
Lily: Absolutely! I think in many instances cyber-friends are closer than real friends. Especially when talking about spanking or a lifestyle not everyone is accustomed to, it's so much easier to be blatantly honest with those in the know and not sitting face to face with you. I think because there is more openness and honesty that a close friendship can develop. There's also a downside to it though, friends can come and go quicker than real life, tangible friendships.
Lea: Yes! In talking about TTWD as we do, we're sharing some of our deepest feelings and desires. How could you not bond with someone over things like that? I'm fortunate that many cyber friends are "real life" friends as well since I've been able to meet them. I also agree with others here that a potential downside is some people vanish without a trace.
Respecting Mistress: I think cyber friends can be quite close, but it's an entirely different dynamic than real life. I've had several cyber friends and the one great thing is that we can each discuss quite openly our interests in domestic disipline. There's very little chance for me, or mistress, meeting so many people with that interest face to face, and even if we did, it's hard to imagine having such open and honest discussions. And as Anastasia says, it helps bridge the international divide.
Elle: This exactly. :)
Natasha Knight: I've been saying lately how I'm more real in my cyber life under my assumed name than I am in my 'real' life. I've met people I can connect with over things that are so close to me that I can't speak of them to my 'real' life friends. So, yes, cyber friends can be as close as and for me, closer than real life friends.
Cara Bristol: I think it's a different sort of friendship, but yes, it can be close. Do you remember the days when people had pen pals? Cyber friendships are like that. I have many author friends I've gotten to know through the internet that I've never met in person. The internet allows you to meet more people than you'd ever meet in real life and have friends all over the world. It also allows you to find people with like interests (such as spanking) much easier.
Bonnie: I think I gave away my thoughts in the introduction. Had I agreed with Randy, we wouldn't have had much of a discussion. I definitely believe that cyber relationships can develop quickly and become very close. The internet allows these relationships to grow, but the key factor is shared interests and values.
I've long marveled at the complementary roles that real and cyber friends play. I would never even think of telling a co-worker what Randy did to me in our bedroom last night. But I might tell them about our daughter's new job. For cyber friends, it's just the opposite. Each group fills a different need.
Thank you all for joining our brunch conversation!