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October 25, 2022

Do we have the time anymore? Online friendships vs Real life

Photo by Tim Douglas on Pexels.

An ‘online’ stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

Are real life friendships/relationships taking second stage to the meta life, the virtual society of social media, apps and gaming?

That’s the question I was asking myself as I was scrolling through my anonymous friends on Twitter, Instagram and so on. Whilst reading through my direct messages from people I have never ever met, in countries thousands of miles away, I was wondering just how much more I interact with people online compared to the people of the real world and whilst tallying up my exceptionally minimal message count I realised it was actually quite a difference. I mean let’s be honest, when was the last time you picked up a phone and just called a real world friend? Actually spoke with real words and voice and everything, imagine that weird concept.

It’s quite incredible that the words written from strangers can actually mean more than the words from people you physically know in the ‘real’ world. So it begs the question, have we as a society become so enthralled in the virtual landscape that we have started to forget what the real world is? Maybe, but why?

Is it the concept of time? Have we become so busy in our everyday lives that we don’t have time for the real world anymore and the only human interactions we can now afford to have are online – so in between meetings, on the train, on the loo even, we can just pick up our phones or laptops and connect with people online, people we don’t even know.

I guess our need for connections transcends the boundaries that we used to have about speaking to strangers we don’t even know. Were we not as children to not speak to strangers. People are just people and at the end of the day we are all only human and as humans we are sociable creatures that thrive on being part of communities no matter who or what they are. We can be anyone’s friends, even family if that bond through words on a little magical screen are strong enough to connect in one’s heart…but that leads me on to the world of relationships and dating. Is it possible to have a real relationship with someone halfway across the world?

I have pondered this a lot mainly due to my own personal experiences in the past and I want to give you my take on this quite fascinating question.

As long as you are honest with what you write to a potential intercontinental partner I believe your connection can actually be stronger mentally and emotionally than a real world physical encounter but that’s the issue isn’t it, that physical aspect. A person online in my opinion is more likely to open up emotionally and talk more about what’s in their head – it’s easier to release because you won’t have to worry about that person talking to someone else you know and so on and so forth, it’s just easier to write their emotions, to discuss life events because the other person on the end of the phone has no real judgements about your life, has no real worries about the other real people in your life and in turn their opinions have no real impact on other people. It’s like having a 24-7 shrink on tap to pour your heart to and to air anything and everything that’s on your mind. Long nights deep in conversation whether it’s via video chat or old school typey messaging, the bond that can be created can actually be very intense and very real but is it possible to be in love without the sensation of touch and that moment when two people connect on a deeper level? With the onset of facetime and virtual reality I believe it is very possible to have sensual encounters and develop that bond to a higher degree of intimacy.

I will freely admit that my own personal experience was intense and very real until the moment I stepped away and in all honesty that’s when  a few things happened. Firstly you get withdrawals from the situation, the times you spent online with that person have suddenly gone and the only thing I can liken it to is an addiction withdrawal, you find yourself checking your phone a lot and your mind is always wondering what that person is doing. The other side effect was a total feeling of loneliness – you go from having a person on tap, whenever you want to chat to having literally nothing and it’s a very daunting and very real feeling of nothingness that penetrates you deep inside as you replay every conversation you’ve ever had in your head.

So what does the future look like for real world vs virtual friendships?

With the onset of the Metaverse and virtual reality becoming more real than ever before it does indeed seem like the days of a natural and real life connection are fast becoming secondary to that holographic relationship. The ability to marry your avatar will soon become a reality, you will be able to purchase an online house, have an online job and literally live a life away from your real life – pretty scary stuff isn’t it.

Once upon a time people used to meet other people in a bar, go on dates and feel the delectable delights of a kiss. However those moments may soon be recorded in the history books as we move closer and closer to a life less ordinary – so the question is simple, are you ready player one?

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