28 January 2018

Online Friendship

People in this day and age seem to be a lot more comfortable with the idea of relationships being made through the internet. It's apparently the second most common way to meet your other half and parent meetups such as Mush and Mummy Social are becoming increasingly popular ways to meet other local mums. But there still seems to be an almost 'comedy' element attached to online friendships with people you've never met and people can think it's quite odd!

When I thought of online friendships, it was along the lines of MSN Messenger (ASL?) or the dodgy chatrooms of the late 90s/early 00s (why the hell was I part of a Buffy chatroom? Wasn't even that big a fan...). However, over the last few months I have definitely made some connections through Instagram and I would consider these women to be fast becoming friends. 

I don’t struggle to make friends and I am lucky to have a lot of wonderful friends in my life but the power of the internet opens up the opportunity to forge a relationship with groups that you might not otherwise be able to link to. Within my friendship group there aren't many who are divorced. That struggle with an at times disagreeable ex. That have been through the family court system. That are single parents. And sometimes you want to be able to chat to people who have had a similar experience to you and can fully understand the conflict and emotions you may be feeling. 

And I feel this goes both ways. I've had women reach out to me and I've reached out to women. I have women checking in with me when they think I may be having a hard time and want to make sure I'm OK. I've laughed with women and shared their hard times just as they share mine. All online.

As a single mum who works full time, finding time to meet with friends can be tough. Not all my friends live locally, in fact a lot of my good friends live miles and miles away. And even those best friends I have that do live locally? They have their own lives. I can't get out easily without a shitload of planning and you can't only expect people to come to you. The evenings can be very quiet and lonely when the little one goes to bed and despite very much enjoying my own company and the ability to watch the soaps in peace, I do miss an adult connection. In an evening I do spend a lot of time on my phone or online and this does help to combat feeling alone. When you have people who want to know about your day, that you can moan to or laugh with, who you can bounce an idea off or chat shit with - it makes all the difference. WhatsApp groups and Instagram helps to keep me sane - and yes, some of the people I am chatting to are friends I have had in my life for years and others I have never met and may never meet.

Is online friendship real friendship? To me, yes. Someone who cares about you as a person, allows you to speak openly and can support you in times of need as you do with them. Seems pretty real to me.

Some people reading this will be nodding their head, totally getting where I am coming from. Others may think I'm an absolute weirdo sadcase. And that's OK. Some people may have no need for online friendship - but I know it's made a big difference to my life.

*Side note - it's not the oddest way I've ever made a friend... On my MAT leave a woman put a notice up in the post office looking to meet other local mums. I emailed her and seeing that our babies were a similar ahe and deciding that she didn't seem a total psycho I met her in a cafĂ©. She was perhaps not the kind of person I would normally have been friends with however she seemed nice enough so we met up again. On the second meet up, she handed me some business cards for her boyfriend. Her naturist boyfriend. And invited me to check out his naked pictures on his website. We never did meet up again... And yes. I did look!* 

Written by Susan @pizza.for.tea

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