Monday, July 01, 2013


Sometimes, I wish I had more opportunities to study, or to follow individual research projects. Just as an example, what is it that makes some music strike a chord with some people and just not at all with others? Or, why do I like certain colours and yet someone else cannot stand them. Positively. Aggressively. And again, why do some things make one person laugh like a drain and another does not even smile at the same joke or situation? I find it all quite fascinating, and would really love to research the questions of taste more.

I had a friend for a few years whose favourite word was 'crap' when he didn't like something. We didn't remain friends for all that long. Whenever I suggested it was just a matter of taste, that he didn't like it and that it didn't mean it was bad, he just used to clam up completely. By the way, this was usually connected to music, which, lets face it, is very much down to personal taste, but it would be interesting to know what triggers the things we like.

Another subject I would like to study is whether knowing someone personally makes a difference in their level of commitment to a relationship or action. My feeling is that it does, but I have no evidence to prove it either way. I only have my experience. My example here is something I will keep suitably vague for reasons of discretion. Not so long ago, I made a request for volunteers to conduct a certain research project for me. A number of people volunteered which I was really happy about. Some of them I knew personally, and others I knew through other means but hadn't had a personal interaction with them. There was a deadline to the project because I had to fulfil certain obligations by a certain date with the information they were going to give me. Of those who committed to the project, everyone I knew personally completed it. However, those who did not, and for whose results I am still waiting, are the ones outside my personal circle.

I find this very interesting. The point is, I did not ask any of them to participate in the project, they all volunteered. And yet, only those who'd had personal interaction with me completed. I am not upset, or even annoyed. I am just now interested from an objective point of view.

We all make so many contacts and friends on the Internet these days, so let's take this thought a bit further. To what extent can we consider friends we may have 'known' on the Internet for years, but never actually met, real friends?

I've been blogging since 2006, so there are some people I have 'known' via this medium and through Facebook and Twitter for a long time. I have shared and still share daily contact with them over the Internet. But I've never met them. On the other hand, I also have long standing 'real life' friends I have only occasional meetings with and our contact is rare, but they are very close to me.  When I need help or some other support, and in spite of my fondness for my internet buddies, these real life friends are the people I will most likely call on. Why? Is it because I know and have met them personally? Is there something extra in the physical contact? So that is my question. To what extent is personal contact and interaction important in making commitments?

As I said at the beginning, it's just one of those subjects I'd like to make a study of.

Don't mind me...I'm just musing really :-)


  1. This post has given me something to think about. I think we often become efriends because we have something in common eg barges (!) and for example when we get to meet we know that we have that in common, along with dogs, kids, teaching etc. Real friends often just happen and then evolve, two people who may have nothing at all in common but genuinely like each other as people and that is a good basis for a lasting friendship. Both types of friendships have their place, one involves less commitment than the other which sometimes is all we have time for in our busy lives. But then time spent with long standing friends is always precious. Just musing! Xxx

  2. Fran, yes! and it's also true to say that sometimes people become e-friends with a determination to meet for real, and then that confirms the friendship they knew from the outset they were going to have :-) On that note, when ARE we going to meet? I have studied Tollesbury on the map and would just love to come and visit you there! xxx

  3. You are so welcome whenever you would like to come. I am thinking about making a trip to Rotterdam one weekend in August. Would you be around or are you off on your holidays/barging/at house? Or perhaps September would be better? X

  4. We will be away most of August, Fran, as my sister has invited us to her caravan in France for the second half and the first half we will most probably be in Zeeland, but if you think you might come over in the first half, let me know. I can always come back to Rotterdam. September is also good, so just send me a message when you know you're coming! I'll make a plan to be there whatever! xx

  5. Okay, it is easy for me because I don't have term times to think about, so you give me a weekend in September and I will come over x

  6. Brilliant! I will! I'll really look forward to that!

  7. The line between 'real friends' (those who live round the corner as well as those we were at uni with and see less than once a year) seems to have a different quality from those we 'meet' online.

    Online friendships are such a recent phenomenon - all the more reason to study the implications? And I wonder if you would get different answers from talking with young people rather than those of us who have been round the block a couple of times.

    But if you should ever make it to deepest Wiltshire, I could find you cake, and a canal to wander by, and even a bed for the night!

  8. Thanks Jo! I would love to do that and who knows? That's a good point about young people. Their perceptions are different although in terms of the research project I conducted, my theory still seems to fit. By the way, we should add something else to this mix. Does reading someone's book give an added element to feelings of friendship? I think it does :-)

  9. The blog post I'm writing just now touches this ever so slightly. At the start of your post you spoke about people not agreeing with what you liked.I worked with someone and no matter what I said I liked she would say I was wrong to like the tv show,the holiday destination,the restaurant I loved etc..she failed to understand the meaning of choice.
    I also think the online friendship is very new,I think it's moved on from the pen pals we all used to have.Young people are different, on their facebook pages they have hundreds of "friends." I would never accept a friend on facebook I didn't already know although some may be through blogs or twitter.
    Most of my online friends live too far away to be the friends you could count on but I think distance is the only problem I'm sure if they lived close by I coould count on them.
    I have met a few online friends in person they were all as I thought they would be ,one was much quieter in person than she is online but that's not a critisim just an observation.
    I probably speak to my online friends everyday too Val and I do count them as friends

  10. So you want to study psychology, sociology and possibly psychiatry too. If only I knew what went on in other people's minds, but then I still don't understand what goes on in my mind most of the time so I don't stand a chance.

    I must add that friends are special people. We need to meet and spend real time together to become real friends but I get the feeling we'd be really good friends if ever we did meet up.

  11. Anne, so you know what it's like having someone oppose what you like at every turn. Exhausting, isn't it? Maybe you are right about the distance aspect. I certainly feel I am making real friends here even though I haven't met you all. The point is I really want to meet you, and maybe that's also a difference!

    Ros, you always make me laugh :-) I know. I don't have a hope of understanding any of this either, but it does interest me, and yes, I think we would be real friends too if we were to meet. I feel that about all my blogging friends, but as Anne says, distance makes it difficult to create that opportunity. We'll have to have a big blogger bash one of these days and turn these internet friendships into something more tangible!

  12. I, too, have been triggered into musing on this fascinating subject by your considerations. Friendship is about commitment, whereas the very nature of social networking is brief and sporadic for the most part; it is very hard to maintain contact with many 'followers' and 'friends'; e-contacts’ very public nature also means that a huge amount of personal discretion is involved. I think quite carefully before committing personal things to Twitter or Facebook or my blog, but know that I have to impart some things, for engagement with others even on a trivial level must in my view be based on honesty. For example, when you made your request for help, I did consider it, but knew that I did not have the time to do it and was not prepared to commit to anything I wouldn’t carry through… so I didn’t offer.
    I’m also cautious because of real experiences; sometimes ‘friends’ have other motives or agendas, which are soon found out. It’s hard to read people online, because so much is hidden. I have always regarded the networks as a busy public place, like a market, where one stops to chat and is friendly and takes interest in others, but does not make demands on them or have expectations of them. In such a place, I might come across shared attitudes and interests, which helps conversation, but would not be able to judge whether that might develop into a friendship proper. It may be cynical, but Oscar Wilde’s presentation of Gwendolen and Cecily’s friendship has a biting truth about it!
    Now I’ve written this, it seems rather cool, but it is honest! You, Valerie, are as friendly a person as I could wish to meet online; you might think the same of me, but you might not be so keen on the totality of me in real life! (We might call each other friends proper after calling each other a lot of things first!) ;)
    May I comment on the pictures in the other post? I like them very much and your garden has a lovely open aspect. No wonder you relish being there.

  13. Christina, many thanks for your very thoughtful response. I realise I've been slightly side-tracked by all these other very considered responses too as my original 'musing' was about the extent to which people feel committed to action more than about the feeling of friendship itself. I find myself agreeing with everyone here, so I don't know what that says :-) You made me smile with your last words,

    This aside, I have been lucky enough to meet quite a number of my blogger friends in person. These have all been people I was eager to see because I liked them very much online. Without exception, the meetings have cemented the friendships into something more solid. I hope I get the opportunity to meet more of you. It really is the best of both worlds!


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