FRIENDS VIRTUAL OR REAL?

I’ve had a virtual week. I don’t mean literally. Of course my week has been real and grounded in the physical world. I mean that for the first time in ages all my contact with my friends has been via the internet.

It’s not like I have been a recluse. I have spoken to real people. I had a tutorial at one point and there were flesh and blood students there. I went to my cake class and a meeting about choir and a Jamie Oliver party and I spoke to my boss on the phone several times. But all the time that I have spent just talking to friends has been online.

I’m not really sure what to make of this. To be fair it’s quite unusual. Generally I make the effort to invite people here for coffee during the course of the week but this week it just didn’t happen and at the risk of hugely offending the people that I generally see, I am fine on my own.

Is this a bad thing? Should I allow my online relationships to take priority over actual face to face time? I think the answer to that is probably no. Online is stuff is fun. It involves a wider variety of people than you would ever get all in one room in the real world. Flirting, arguing, inane chitter chatter. It’s all scarily easy online and I don’t tend to have those kinds of conversations elsewhere. My real encounters are generally with one person at a time so there’s not much banter and I almost never talk to men vocally because there just aren’t any in my world.

But, as someone online pointed out recently, who really knows what is going on? It is much easier to be something that you’re not if you can’t see the whites of your friend’s eyes. Happy, sad, angry, tickled – it’s all the same online. A careful selection of words and you can give whatever impression you fancy.

I must hasten to add that what you see in any aspect of my life is pretty much what you get. I wear my heart on my sleeve for all to make of as they will. But what worries me is that I do have a tendency to solitude and it  would be frighteningly easy for me to spend my entire time beetling around my house and relying on facebook and Open University forums for any social interaction.

I’m aware that I’m walking a very thin line and in danger of upsetting friends both real and virtual alike but, honestly, I need them all. Between them they provide me with support, entertainment and stimulation. Does it really matter whether they do this over a cup of coffee or by a one line posting in a chat room? I imagine that as long as I maintain as healthier balance as I can between them all I can’t go far wrong. However, if you think I have fallen off your radar please give me a little nudge. It wasn’t intentional.

What do you think? I'd love to know...