On this week’s show (link below if I remember) we discussed friendship, and the difference between real life and facebook/social media friends. There is some pretty strong opinion that there is no real replacement for real life friends, the type you can go out and have a coffee with and not just message on FB or trade likes on pictures.
Now, I guess I am looking at this from a slightly different angle to most people, whose main contact with the idea of an online friend, is through social media platforms like Facebook. But I have been playing MMORPG’s games a lot longer than I have had a facebook account (Yes, I am THAT old, and yes, I was THAT late to the party). I have known many people for over a decade and that is a strong bond. And I guess, the other thing that binds this sort of relationship is that when playing a computer game, more so MMORPG than say an FPS is that you are having to work as part of a team, it is using the same skills that you would use in your daily life.
Now, I do spend a fair amount of time on FB, and in various groups, one of which is a World of Warcraft group. This morning one of the members posted something which really tugged at the heart strings, and for me, cements my opinion on whether pixel friends can be real friends, here is her post :
I got in game tonight only to get a whisper from my oldest friend in the game. I met him when I started playing years ago, in a Ghostlands guild called Jester’s Court. He was the nicest person I had met in the game and showed my boyfriend at the time and myself so much kindness. He’s a big part of the reason I do so many nice things in game. After talking to him and adding him on real ID, I found out he was in his 60s and played after a stroke left him unable to work. His wife liked to watch him play and spend time with him that way, even though she didn’t play herself. When I logged on today he informed me that he had buried her today after weeks of struggle with her health. I never met her nor talked to her, but I cried. I wish I could do something for him so badly to help because it hurts me to know he’s in pain. They were married over 34 years.
This kind of thing is the reason I get a bit upset when people try to say online friendships aren’t “real” friendships. When all of the emotions involved are as genuine as any friendship, whose job is it to judge that it isn’t real?
(I just want to thank Kelly again for allowing me to use her post in my blog – to stay on topic, we aren’t friends on FB but we have managed to connect)
So really, I think that gaming, and the friends you make there, are not exactly the same as the friends you make on FB, or other social media. I mean really you are not basing any of your opion of that person on first impressions. You don’t know what they look like, often you will not hear them, most of the conversation will be related to the game. Any of the other information shared is going to be edited heavily. And you are, again, working as a team. Be it because you are in a guild together, because you group to do quests together, of because you run dungeons together. It still comes back to having to work together, to some extent. Its like having a really, really long blind date. You are basing your opinions on someone purely on your in game interactions.
Sure, that female elf character you are chatting to, could be a middle aged man, could be a teenager, could be an actual girl. But unlike your social interactions when face to face, or when you have real ‘proof’ – you are going to treat them differently to your other social interactions. Although you may eventually end up adding them on Facebook, follow them on twitter, and drool over their pictures of food loaded onto I.G – your friendship has already been cemented without a lot of the window dressing normal relationships have.
Last week I also instigated a discussion on my facebook page, following people proclaiming social media as evil and that they would be seeing who their ‘real friends are’ by who would keep in contact them outside a social media platform.
One friend said that she feels she can be the person she wants to be online, and more herself.
Another, that she has more friends online, and that she goes to those friends (myself included) before her ‘real’ friends. That she feels that she is ‘cooler’ online.
Another suggested ‘Its not how you meet someone its how you interact with em in my view.’ Which i really liked.
I had an interesting discussion with a friend :For me it’s been a lifeline too. Especially as an adult, it’s been helpful for friendships. I have to spend so much time at work, I don’t know how I’d make friends otherwise. Too, I’ve always wanted my work life separate from my non-work life. And I’m in a weird position also where I’m stuck between too different generations at work: Baby Boomers and Millennials. I connect and relate to way more people now than I did previously to being on social media and even having a smart phone. Also, too, I think back to when the lovely wife was on hard-core anti-viral meds, then immunosuppressants to combat the uveitis that is taking her sight. She was sick constantly. We couldn’t go anywhere. When I wasn’t at home, I was at work. We saw virtually no one we knew in real life. If it wasn’t for social media, I think we both would have broken under the weight of that loneliness.
While another friend offered this : There are different categories of online friends, I think. People you’ve never met, people you’ve met once or twice, people you meet irregularly, people you used to see regularly, but don’t anymore (what with all that growing up shiz people do), ad people you see regularly. Friendships tend to get stronger / the people tend to mean more to you as you move through those categories, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
I will continue to look at friendships in another blog post, so keep your eyes out. It is interesting to think about how or why relationships work and I hope you have enjoyed my blog x