The methods through which we create and maintain relationships are constantly changing, with recent decades boosting the move from a purely location-based model to one where relationships can spawn and develop remotely, thanks to the Internet (and, to a lesser degree, the telephone and mail systems). However, while this new way of creating and maintaining relationships has distinct advantages over the ‘traditional’ concept of location-based friendship creation, many perceive it as inferior.
Taking his cue from a quote that did the rounds on Twitter last year–Twitter makes me like people I’ve never met and Facebook makes me hate people I know in real life–David Hayes attempts to shed light on the advantages of Internet-originating relationships by perfectly describing the way friendship creation has evolved over time (by means of describing the constraints to doing so). The conclusion echoes my sentiments exactly:
I view the higher value placed on place-originating (or “real-life”) friendships as wrongheaded. It seems only logical to me that it is better to build your relationships from a pool of people who speak your language and have similar soft-qualities to you, than to attempt to start from a geographically constrained group and then attempt to find soft-quality matches in a face-to-face series of interactions. This is fundamentally what the internet allows: the friendship process to start from a set of commonalities around soft attributes, and then potentially aim for geographic matching. This is the opposite of the standard process, but certainly the one more likely to yield deep and long-lasting relationships.
Interestingly, even though our only communication has been through numerous backlinks and a couple of tweets, I wouldn’t hesitate in calling David a friend. Most likely, the majority of my Facebook friends (i.e. my physical world originating friends) would not understand this.