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Your Thoughts About Virtual Relationships Based on Shared Interests vs. Real-Life Friendships?

Reid Rosefelt

aka Tiger the Frog
I used to have a lot of friends that I got together with regularly to make music with. I also used to know a number of people who composed on the computer. But for a series of unrelated reasons--people moving away, etc--I don't have many New York friends that are making music on computers anymore. And the ones I do know, I have lost touch with. So the contacts I've made with people around the world who share my interests are increasingly precious to me. While many of these relationships have become quite warm, they have rarely broken through to phone calls and skype. And I can only think of one face-to-face NY meeting with a VIC member.

Today I read an article by Damon Linker in "The Week," which said the following (among other things):

The rise of the internet, and especially social media, has opened up other possibilities for social interaction, if not exactly friendships. People sharing similar interests, hobbies, quirks, and obsessions can easily find each other online and enjoy a digital facsimile of friendship with others. These virtual communities are more like collective groups of topic-specific pen pals than real-world friendships. The latter are marked both by physical closeness (involving handshakes, hugs, backslaps, shared meals and drinks, and all the intimacy that accompanies them) and the possibility of holistic self-exposure beyond the specific endeavor that initially brought the friends together. Whether you and your friend originally became close playing or watching sports, shopping, or participating in a book club, that foundation can open up the possibility of a deeper or broader sharing of memories, thoughts, hopes, and fears — the full stories of our lives.

Online relationships are different. A modicum of that closeness might be achieved by some, taking the edge off the pain and loneliness of a life without friends. But for most the interaction will tend to remain topic-specific — and for nearly all, the interaction will be entirely mental. A friendship (or love affair, for that matter) conducted completely online takes place wholly within the minds of the participants, with imagination playing a vastly greater role than it would in the real world. That's one reason why the quirks and obsessions that draw people to specific websites, chat rooms, Facebook groups, and Twitter threads often lead those clusters to become quirkier and more obsessive over time. Lacking any need to test ideas against the hard limits and constraints that obtain in the physical world, ideas can run wild in the minds of participants in an online conversation or debate.


Thoughts?

Reid
 

mybadmemory

Senior Member
I kind of miss life before internet, or at least life before smartphones, which made internet a constant.

I often find the convenience of online conversations, regardless of if they are with real life friends or forum acquaintances, make me less willing to actually call someone or meet up in real life even though the latter by far trumps the former in terms of well-being during and afterwards.

During the last three weeks I’ve been stuck in bed with a long lasting cold, that unfortunately had me canceling most of the plans I had for the summer and the people I intended to meet. One of the things that kept me occupied was rewatching Friends on Netflix, and God did it make me jealous of these pre-internet times.

Sure it’s fiction, and few people in reality had such a tight knit group of close friends to hang out with everyday, but compared to now, I still feel I was much closer to that kind of life before the www entered my pocket (read: my hand).
 

marclawsonmusic

Senior Member
A friendship (or love affair, for that matter) conducted completely online takes place wholly within the minds of the participants, with imagination playing a vastly greater role than it would in the real world.
This quote might have made sense in the 90's, when online interactions were largely text-based.

But these days, with voice chat, Facetime, video meetings, Discord, streaming, YouTube, etc... you really can get to know people you meet online.

Of course it is never the same as sitting down for a pint, but the idea that an online relationship only exists 'in the minds of the participants' is a bit ridiculous in 2021.
 

Ellen Soomers

New Member
Hi there Reid,
I think physical contact can benefit in developing a longterm friendship but my experience is that it's not a condition to have a deeper friendship or soul connection. Music(creating/listening) has so much to do with "soulsearching" and "life traveling experiences" that exchanging thoughts and feelings about music, always makes me feel connected to someone in a certain way. Of course, the level of the connection is not always the same depth but i've met some wonderful people online who have had a positive impact in my life and still do. Meeting people "in real life" ofcourse adds more "flavout to the disk".
Nice topic Reid🙏
Greetings Ellen
 
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Reid Rosefelt

Reid Rosefelt

aka Tiger the Frog
Thread starter
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This quote might have made sense in the 90's, when online interactions were largely text-based.

But these days, with voice chat, Facetime, video meetings, Discord, streaming, YouTube, etc... you really can get to know people you meet online.

Of course it is never the same as sitting down for a pint, but the idea that an online relationship only I exists 'in the minds of the participants' is a bit ridiculous in 2021.
Just because it is possible to have a video meeting, doesn't mean that you actually do it. Particularly with people you have never met.

I don't know what the experience is of other people on this forum, but I find that relationships can go on for years through email or DM without anybody suggesting that it should graduate to the phone or video calling.

I rarely have video calls even with my friends. I don't like them. I prefer the phone.

Hi there Reid,
I think physical contact can benefit in developing a longterm friendship but my experience is that it's not a condition to have a deeper friendship or soul connection. Music(creating/listening) has so much to do with "soulsearching" and "life traveling experiences" that exchanging thoughts and feelings about music, always makes me feel connected to someone in a certain way. Of course, the level of the connection is not always the same depth but i've met some wonderful people online who have had a positive impact in my life and still do. Meeting people "in real life" ofcourse adds more "flavout to the disk".
Nice topic Reid🙏
Greetings Ellen
Hi Ellen. And welcome.

Yes, I agree it's not a condition. I definitely have had my life changed profoundly by people I only interact with online. Pretty much everything I know today about virtual instruments, I got started on here. So many people helped me, and so many people were nice to talk to.

But it's always been deeper when I actually started talking to them.

For example, I have known and liked and admired @Simeon Amburgey for some time, but I recently started doing a podcast with him and the difference is night and day. Now we both know a lot more about each other than our mutual love of music software. It's extremely nice to have conversations with ALL the guys in the podcast.
 

Braveheart

Active Member
I started singing on the Smule app, with online chatting on another app used by Smule singers, singing live through the app, etc. I started a project gathering singers from all over the world to collaborate online to create original songs and release them professionally. One friend I got closer and got a chance to talk live online. So it’s different, but online friendship is definitely possible.
 

AllanH

Senior Member
For about a 10 year period, my primary "social circle" was a chat room of like-minded friends. We all trades stocks or commodities in scale and chatted all day long. Most of us made a point out of meeting up at various trade-shows yearly and that added something unique to the chatroom. I was great fun and was a key part of how I stayed "mostly sane" under the stress. I think our friendships were enhanced by the annual get together. I now use Zoom/Skype with friends and family in different states or countries.
 

CATDAD

Member
I think there's a significant difference between the feeling of an entirely digital connection vs maintaining a real-life connection through a digital medium. Even just meeting someone in person once can really change your perception of your relationship with them online.

Throughout COVID I have never felt fully isolated during lockdowns because I've always had a drop-in group voice chat with my old friends, and it felt about as natural as hanging out in person. We'd share each others' screens just so we can kind of peek over at what the other person is up to and comment on it. Sometimes that time was spent playing video games together though, which is different because you are directly interacting with the people you are playing with. They are also all people I originally met in person, while people I know primarily online are the first to get chopped when I don't have time or energy to maintain those relationships. We don't often bother to add camera-video, but these are people I can literally visualize in detail as they speak to me.

On the other hand though, for those who don't have so many direct in-person relationships to maintain, those digital connections and communities can be so important that they are literally life-saving. I've had online-only friendships that have extended beyond the topic/activity at hand, but they do take some time to grow in to that. But it's true that some people enter different personas online than real life, and if you meet them in real life later on, it could be different than you expected!

Something else that very specifically applies to people who spend a lot of time working with audio... is they may not want to voice-chat and work/listen to audio at the same time!

In the end I'd say meeting in person is not necessary to form a full bond, but it can create and reinforce a bond faster and more effectively than over the internet. I will say it can be a bit tiring having access to so many "relationships" at any given time, rather than just the people close enough to visit. I find it very off-putting when someone sends me a casual message and takes it personally when I don't respond within the same day, or expects my full attention at whatever random time!
 
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