When I told my friend that I was going to attend a bloggers meet on Sunday, she asked me, "Why?" I couldn't understand the reason behind her Why.
I tried to give her many answers in the line of, "Isn't it wonderful to connect with people whom you have only virtually met?," "Come on, it's fantastic to meet those people whose writings one has followed and admired." My friend was unmoved. She replied, "Why on earth do you want the virtual to become real?" Well, I muttered, "We want to extend the relationship of the virtual into the real. Who knows, we might also become best of friends." Still not convinced, my friend said, "Let the virtual be virtual and the real, real." I couldn't have the last word because I didn't know what to say.
Much thought has gone into the topic of virtual relationships. Today many of my phone contacts are people whom I had befriended over blogs, Facebook and the then Orkut. I interact with them, share thoughts and call them up to just have friendly chats but does that mean I know them up, close and personal. I don't know many of them personally. Perhaps I would know their addresses, their birthdays and their favourite food but does that mean I would call them when I am in a very bad situation. Will I reach out to them when I need some financial assistance or a shoulder to cry on? Well, no. The reasoning, "But I haven't met them for real" will always be somewhere on the back of my mind when I think of even seeking any favour, no matter how small. Are virtual relationships only for good times and a pat on the back in terms of "like" or do they even go beyond that?
I have been writing hand-written letters to some of my blogger friends since I enjoy writing letters. Does that mean that I am very 'close' to these bloggers. Perhaps, I have that extra special liking for those individuals who seem to radiate warmth and joy through their words on their blog and Facebook page. Am I very 'close' to them? I cannot say. Will I tell them that a certain X has broken my heart and that I am down in the dumps? Will I talk to them about my financial anxieties? Maybe I think, "What will they think of me if I start unloading on them?" What is the nature of these 'friendships?' How personal can we get to our virtual friends?
Here, I should also mention that I have had a handful of virtual friends with whom I have become very personal. But when it comes to comfort levels, nothing can beat a face-to-face conversation, says my friend. I beg to differ with her because I think there are different levels of virtual friendships - some shallow and some very deep. It is because we believe that the virtual will lead to real and lasting relationships that we are quite eager to meet in person and interact. But some, like my friend, would like the virtual to be virtual and the real, real.
My dear reader, what do you think of this topic. How has the virtual life mingled with your real life? Do you think that the virtual and the real should be separate?