My kids always smirk when I talk about my online friends. They seem to think that friendships born out of mutual respect and commonality can’t be real. They say, “You can’t really know that person if you don’t spend time with them.” I totally disagree.
I have many friends that I’ve cultivated over the years here at Yahoo (and back in AC’s day). Some of them I’ve known now for seven years. Others are newer connections. While I may have never “met” these people, I do know them.
How, one might ask? If there is one thing about writers, it is the fact that they cannot help but bare their souls. It is what we all do. We open ourselves up in a way that many other types of friends never do. Because of that, it is possible to make a deep and abiding connection with individuals.
For example, Will S. and I bonded over Star Trek. However, our friendship grew as we discovered we had other things in common as well. I absolutely adore that man. He is one of the kindest, most compassionate, highly intellectual and interesting individuals I’ve ever known.
Pat B. and I connected almost instantly. Talk about your loving souls. She has one of those hearts that reaches out and grabs yours and wraps it in absolute comfort. She once made an offer to me that I’ve never forgotten. It was so generous, so thoughtful and so her. I could never turn loose of a friendship like that.
Jody Morse no longer writes a lot here at Yahoo but she has seriously become one of my dearest friends. She’s my cheerleader when it comes to writing. She won’t let me give up on my books despite the fact I haven’t yet had that “break-through” text. She also keeps tabs on my health and well-being. She is one of the kindest, sweetest, most genuine people I know. I love her like a daughter.
There are tons of others I’ve connected with online. There is Han, who also encourages me to keep writing. There is Oscar who reminds me I’ve risen above my childhood and succeeded in ways I never give myself credit for. There is Jack W. who touches my soul with his words and his grace.
There is also Carol R. who is always there to offer support, a kind word and a pat on the back. There is Crystal R. who inspires me to be more than I am through her example of grace, purity and dignity. There is Nancy C. who makes me believe in myself with her encouragement and makes me smile because of her amazing soul.
There is Sophie, who teaches me to look at things a different way and to give all people the respect they deserve. There is Tony P. who isn’t here much on Yahoo anymore but I could never forget his bravery, his courage or his strong heart. There is Charlee and Sandra, new friends who bring me such hope for my own future. I could go on and on.
Hopefully all of my friends know how I feel about them even if I failed to mention them here. I try to be forthright about that. I believe that people are put in our lives for a reason. It doesn’t matter how the friendship came to be. It only matters that it exists.
I believe friendships are God-given. If that is true, does it matter if I see those people in person every day or simply feel their love through a written page? I don’t think it does.
Someday, I would love to meet these people. Nothing in the world would make me happier. However, if that doesn’t happen, I can accept that. I know them. They have brought me joy, happiness, comfort, support and love. How they did it, doesn’t matter. That they did it is all that does. That is the very definition of friendship to me.
So the answer is this: I believe you can make true, lasting friendships online. It is the wave of this generation. Plus, there is the added benefit of being able to reach across the state, the nation and the world to meet and connect with new people. What is better than that?