Today’s post is inspired by the following image. I discovered it while perusing LOLPics, and would like it made absolutely clear that I asked no permission whatsoever to use it here, but seeing as the app has a “download” option, I’m going to assume I can use it here anyway. Public domain, blah blah blah, uncopywrited, jargon, other smart sounding words. And so, the image:
So what about this image inspires me? How different the attitudes between the two worlds are. I got to thinking about why those two attitudes are truly what you will find when you mention that you’re feeling a little less than cheerful.
The answer I came up with is a two parter. First, that on the internet, people are much more open about who they are to start with and therefore form closer bonds with those people. Second, that though the people you talk to in real life will be in a much better position to actually help you, that help well require more effort, and is (to a certain degree) expected as a result of friendship. People tend to shy away from effort, especially when there’s no obvious gain for themselves to be gotten from putting the effort in. Now let’s examine both points…
Forming a close bond with someone is an impressive feat, and we should all do it more often. As much as I rail against people all the time, I think we have a lot of redeeming qualities, and no one should be given up on completely (although the value of continued faith is questionable with certain people, but that’s a topic for another day). People feel a sense of freedom on the internet. Though there is plenty of judgement, there’s also a good amount of anonymity. You don’t need to reveal any more or less than you want to. The sad part is that often the friend you’ve chosen to bond with lives quite far away. It makes normal social interaction difficult at best, and without the live interaction certain images may be formed of the person you’re getting to know that are entirely false, and those lies could ruin whatever friendship you have should you both meet in person at some point and the lies be revealed. It’s a dangerous game. Still, it’s one worth playing, in my opinion. My long distance friends were some of the first I truly felt connected to and who I felt I could turn to I’m my times of need. But a closer bond implies more willingness to be a confidant and shoulder to cry on (or partner in any murders, as the image implies). When you’re far away from each other, the options available for actual help are extremely limited. Words come cheap, as they say, and so they’re given easily.
Which leads me to the second point. Words might come cheap, but taking real action doesn’t. Be honest with yourself when you answer the question I’m about to ask. If you have a friend you see occasionally, but who isn’t exactly one of your closest friends. If they came to you talking about how they’re sad, would you go out of your way to help them? It’s tempting to say that of course you would, but even I probably wouldn’t. Of course I’d listen to them, maybe offer some advice (which are easily accomplished for your internet friends as well), but let’s say they’re broke and needed to borrow a hundred dollars to cover some costs. Would you give it to them? I probably wouldn’t. And I don’t think that makes me any more of a terrible person, but the fact of the matter is that I’m not even remotely alone in that decision. These days, $100 isn’t really that much, for those that actually bother saving any money, but to get it, lend it, and trust that someone to pay it back is a huge commitment.
So where does that leave us? In a world that’s at least a little bit sadder than we’d like to admit. But it could be worse. At least we do have some people we can count on. And besides; now that we know this, we can look into being better friends to the people we know right here in our own backyards.
Or don’t. Your call, as always.