Internet Friends vs “Real Friends”
As some of you know, this weekend la familia López went into D.C. to meet Claudia, who was visiting the area with her family.
I can’t believe that this was our first time meeting face-to-face. After only one year of knowing each other through Twitter, blogs and E-mail, I felt like I was being reunited with a childhood friend – someone I’ve known for a very long time. Our familias got along so well together all evening that when it was time to part ways and Claudia gave me a special gift, I actually started to cry a little.
It’s funny the reactions I’ve had to these friendships that have been sparked over the internet by people who don’t quite “get it.” These days making friends on the internet is common place in our culture – it’s normal – but a long time ago, it wasn’t seen so favorably. At best you were a social outcast who lacked the skills to make friends the traditional way – and at worst, it was something dangerous because you were befriending potential ax murderers who were going to come chop you to pieces.
In conversation with family, neighbors or co-workers, I would say “my friend” did this, or “my friend” said that – sometimes the person, (knowing of my excessive internet use), would stop me and say, “Is this a real friend or an internet friend?” … I have never been able to make that distinction.
Maybe I can’t bring you a caldo de pollo when you’re sick, but I’ll send you links to home remedies and keep you company online while you spend the day in bed. Maybe I can’t be a literal shoulder to cry on, but I know when the keyboard is dotted with tears just by the tone of your E-mail. Maybe I can’t rush to the hospital when you tell me a loved one has had an emergency, but I will text you and tweet you as you wait nervously in the waiting room. Maybe I can’t come over to your house for un cafecito y chisme, but we can do that almost as well on Skype. Maybe I can’t throw you a real life surprise fiesta on your birthday, but surprise packages in the mail can be just as much fun. Maybe I can’t be there for you, but I am HERE for you.
It might sound crazy, but without all of you, I would be a different person right now – I’ve gained so much encouragement and inspiration from you. Some of you know this because I’ve told you, but there are hundreds more who will never know. I may stumble upon a random blog post or read a comment you left me. You might say something that makes me feel curious or confident. That small moment of curiosity or confidence may lead me to try new things – those new things spark ideas and those ideas become words and actions. Those words and actions are expressed on my blog and in my life in real tangible ways… and my blog, so I’m told, has inspired and encouraged many of you… so around and around we go.
What I’m trying to say is, I have had the honor of meeting many of you face-to-face – and in the years to come, I hope to know many more of you – but whether I ever get the chance to tell you in person or not, know that I thank you from the bottom of mi corazón for being a real friend.