The Fragility of Online Friends

Having online friends is no longer considered the resort of the lonely introvert with no social life who looks up people to chat with on a cold, Saturday night. Virtual friendship is a very real and somewhat interesting paradigm that has crept into our social fabric today. Yet, it’s also one of the most fragile things in existence today and I’ll tell you why.

In November last year, I noticed that I had over 1000 friends on Facebook and that over 180 of those were bloggers. More than 300 were people I had met on Facebook. 200 more were acquaintances I had known briefly either through my work or my life.

Online friends, Fragile friendships, Bloggers, Virtual friends

Yet, how many of them really were my ‘friends’? Therein lies one of life’s greatest mysteries. In October, I set about culling my Twitter following list down to 700+ people from the 1800 that it was. I removed people I did not find interesting, people whose tweets were not relevant and those who posted snarky stuff over and over again.

And it was easy. I did it without blinking an eye.

When it came to Facebook, though, I paused. I wondered what a person would feel if I un-friended them. Which is weird, if you think about it. Why should it matter? I mean, I’ve not met at least half of these people in reality. Most of my interactions have been via my blog or my Facebook updates. Some of them haven’t even checked their Facebook accounts for the last 6 months. So, it should be easy to hit the button that will remove those people from my list. But my finger hovers, draws back, goes back, withdraws again, much like a cat looking at a ball of yarn for the very first time in its life.

Let’s be practical here for one second. Even assuming that I am wildly popular (I’m not; we’re just assuming, remember?), 1085 is a large number of friends for one person to have.  I cannot honestly say that I know what’s going on in each person’s life and the Facebook algorithm doesn’t make it any simpler to keep track of updates on people you know.

As a blogger, it stands to reason that I would share my blog updates on my personal profile but for some inexplicable reason, that annoys non-bloggers (who knew!?) So I get gently-worded messages written with ‘goodwill’, asking me to tone down the blog updates on Facebook and I do the decent thing and comply (most of the time).

Then,  I get direct messages saying ‘I’ve blocked your updates on Facebook because, frankly, you post way too much.’ A part of me wants to curl my fists into battle mode but the saner part prevails and I nod, saying, ‘I know what you mean. I’d do it too.’

Why do we do it? Are we conditioned to agree with what people say/do? Is it the acceptance principle at work? Are we afraid to cut people out of our lives (gently speaking) for fear that we will lose some invisible thread that binds us together, however loose it may seem?

I think it’s a bit of everything, to be honest. I haven’t removed many people from my Facebook list for the simple reason that I am not sure how they will react. Is it cowardly? Not really. It’s more because I don’t want to get into a heated argument about  why I chose to remove them from my list or worse, have to explain that I couldn’t keep track of what they were doing and that guilt was eating away at me.

This isn’t to say that Facebook friendships are shallow, far from it. My closest friends today are the ones I have made online, through my blogs and my words. I am grateful for them in more ways than  I can count. They know it too.

The question here is are we aware of the fragility of online friends? It’s imperative, because acknowledging that fragility actually enables you to do two things simultaneously: strengthen the ties with those that matter and letting go of expectations with regard to every relationship that you make in the online world.

If we can do that, we’re on the path to a healthy, yet delicate bond of friendship that can endure for a long time to come.

73 thoughts on “The Fragility of Online Friends

  1. May be FB should introduce a detailed “Friendship application form”- anyone wanting to be friends should fill it up- similar to complicated visa application forms, explaning what category of friendship they are looking, how long they plan to remain friends, what they intend to do etc …

  2. Interesting post!

    I’ve found some wonderful people online that I know I will stay in contact with beyond the scope of social media. I have also been duped by someone online, so I am more careful now with who I trust. I generally avoid Facebook, in real life because it just annoys me, and as a blogger because people on Facebook will share ANYTHING….without even reading it sometimes.

  3. Very well said and well-written. Isn’t this what we all go through? I have had this issue for years and have now STOPPED removing either Facebook or Twitter “friends” – let them be there for what they are worth. Just don’t “follow” them and ignore their messages and “gentle reminders.”
    We bloggers are a breed apart and if someone doesn’t like what we do, tough on them!
    At least we’re not wishing our husbands and wives a Happy Birthday on Facebook and tell the whole world how much we “love” them and “thank” them for being “part of my life” 😉

  4. So you moved ? That’s why I wasnt getting your updates on my Feedly 🙂

    Yes, online friends are fragile but for me, sometimes it turns into interesting bonds and sometimes it just remains as it is. For most part though, I am out of FB these days and cant say I am complaining 🙂

    1. Awww trust you to come back and check. How sweet! See? This is the great thing about friendships made through our blogs, right?

      I am mostly off FB, except to post my frequent updates 😉 Come back later in the day to check comments and reply.

  5. Well,we can’t do without our facebook friends,can we? One has been able to nurture profitable and enlightening relationships with some online friends. And one has also encountered some online friends that are up to no good. Some you choose to ignore, knowing that people have their flaws,just like offline. But if they get nasty,you are left with no choice but to unfriend without feeling guilty. But like you rightly said,the fragility of online friendship should compel you to strenghten ties with those that matter,and also lower your expectations. This will help to retain your sanity as you roll with the occasional verbal brawls, the laughter that comes with reading some crazy posts and so on! Anyway,I had fun reading your post.Thanks.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Felix. Agree that there is a lot more to friendships than what we were used to. Which is what makes it more difficult to navigate 🙂

  6. I thick i remember reading eons ago that we are wired to be able to keep only about a hundred close contacts. The rest remain on the fringes. We just can realistically keep a close bond with more.

  7. Very well written as usual Shailaja!
    Upto a couple of years back, my virtual friend list comprised of people I know and have actually met.
    Now I do have ‘purely online’ friends or those I befriended online without knowing them before!
    The thing I have noticed is that many times I don’t agree with their views and stuff that they post. Earlier I used to express my opinion and get into arguments but no longer. I simply read it and move on.
    Interactions are with people I know well, even online.
    So yes, it’s best to prune the list and also accept requests after due consideration is what I have learnt.

    1. Agree with you, Priya. If I don’t find anything to say, I just don’t say anything at all. Beyond a point, it doesn’t make any sense to make my voice heard.

  8. Hey, this made me think Shailaja. Super interesting perspective:-) In the beginning I added only friends on FB that I had actually met face to face…. Now I see fb more as a useful tool to stay in touch with friends, both online and offline ones:-) all over the world… Some start out as online friends, and then I actually meet them live. But also some I met “for real” and then we stay in touch only online… Thats life I guess, friends come and go. And that’s ok..

    1. I love the way you put it Eli. Friends come and go and that’s okay. It’s all a part of life. How true and yet how we hang on to the remnants of friendship and beat ourselves up over it all.

  9. Yes, you are bang on Shailaja! We indeed inhabit a pseudo-world filled with countless ‘friends’! How easily we accept friend requests, once we see an agreeable number of mutual friends! It is quite scary when you think; there might be cons at work while we unwarily accept strangers to be a part of our lives! Maybe one could consider separate accounts, one for the personal/close family and friends and one for the professional or world at large!

    1. Managing two accounts is actually quite challenging, Kala. Trust me, I have tried it. The best way is to limit sharing of what we share in our personal friend list and our public updates. Lesser heartburn for all concerned 😉

  10. Got fed-up with FB for… well, reasons.
    FB is not only a data kraken; it’s also a time kraken.
    Since th event of “Smart” Phones many people have lost interest in anything longer than 50 words. We’ve fallen prey to the TL;DR “culture”. So, perhaps you should limit your FB contacts to fellow bloggers

    1. I have limited it a lot, trust me 😉 And this, coming from someone who runs a blogging group 😀 Life in the smartphone world is rather too fast paced for my liking. I long for the days when we would have people lolling about in the parks and libraries 🙂

  11. I think online friends can be very fragile but I’ve also met wonderful people who became a great support system. True, it’s good to de-clutter if we don’t connect anymore. I am also dead on people asking to tone down updates since it’s one’s space.

  12. Very interesting perspective, Shailaja. I have hesitated to “unfriend” people simply because I didn’t want them to feel bad. What’s hilarious is, I do know most of my almost 1000 friends on Facebook and have interacted with them directly at some point or other. Also, since I don’t really spend too much time there, it is cool. Not counting, of course, my playtime at BAR. 🙂

    Yes, Twitter is a lot easier to manage in terms of unfollowing people. But even there, people track these stats and send out snarky tweets listing who unfollowed them. They also DM and freak out.

    I find that my mailbox is my favorite social media platform – with no character limit and giving me the privacy I need to converse with people via chat/email.

    I agree with Sid – when we lower our expectations, we preserve our sanity. I am working towards the “no expectations”.

    1. He he, we should all learn from you, Vidya, on how to manage our time on social media. I do confess that I love some of the energetic discussions on FB and that tends to take up a lot of time. I don’t really regret it because I have made some solid friends as a result.

      I’ve kind of got the ‘no expectations’ thing down pat especially thanks to the last year when I was deeply hurt by some of the interactions on social media. I literally try and expect nothing now, not from my blog or social updates. If someone sees it, great. More and more I believe that we must write as if nobody is going to read it.

  13. Honestly too many thoughts in one post! You have opened a pandora’s box. let me quickly jot down:
    Yes it is easier to unfollow people on twitter than unfriend on fb. God alone knows why!
    I have also been asked by people on FB to be more normal than blogger on social media- whatever that means 😛

    Summing it up I always feel blogging is an extension of who I am and if a friend- blogger or non blogger cannot understand my passion is it worth to carry on the burden of that friendship? Because life is seriously too short to convey ideas to everyone 🙂

    A very crisp post 🙂

    1. All my posts are Pandora’s boxes in their own way 😉 Ah but you put your finger on the problem. People don’t accept you for who you are on FB. They want a curated version that appeals to what they think you should share and how much of it should be shared.

      Hence the friend dichotomy. Thanks for reading, Richa 🙂

  14. Oh! The Facebook Friend-List is ever increasing! The list was short earlier but it grew manifold when I stepped into blogosphere. I was overwhelmed by the friends that stepped into my list, whose requests I couldn’t decline or vice versa.. But on the other note, I found a different family online, that heard me patiently and read my rants calmly without shooting out advices on the first chance they could get, and then I realized that it’s the friends that matter not medium we met through!

    1. Friends do matter, they always do. How we respond to these friendships is equally relevant, don’t you agree? Also, as far as advice is concerned, we get it everywhere. Maybe how we respond to advice is also important 🙂

  15. Reading your post and all the above insightful comments, I have come to the conclusion that if, someday, I do get popular 😛 (which is pretty difficult to imagine since I largely write for myself rather than to attract high readership) I will have 2 Facebook profiles – one just for fellow bloggers who would like to connect and another for bloggers who transcend into forming close relationships.
    Currently, I take time to think before accepting friendship requests. My decision depends upon my gut feeling and the mutual bonding based on our blogs. I have zero tolerance policy with respect to relatives (high on fragility for me) and strangers & friends of friends with whom there has been no interaction in any space and I have no qualms in hitting the decline button. For such people, I have a ‘Follow me’ button on my page (which they won’t use).
    In the past, twice I have culled my FB friends list removing all the people from my erstwhile work places and school/college batchmates because I know they wouldn’t be interested in what I do now for my Stay-at-home-good-for-nothing status and neither do I have any interest in their affairs. I have just 68 friends and presently they are for keeps.

    1. I do have two FB profiles, but the other one is for work and only has work-related friends, which is precisely 4 in number 😉 Managing two profiles becomes tedious for me, especially since I don’t deactivate anymore. I used to do it fairly regularly all through 2015.

      College friends are , dicey, to be honest. Some are really good ones while others are there to keep tabs on you. So it becomes a challenge to maintain a status quo with them.

  16. I unfriended some people from my FB list some time back, for the simple reason that there was no communication or connection with them. And, I really didn’t find it wrong to do so, coz if they did react, I wouldn’t know nor care, they being virtual strangers to me! On the other hand, some virtual strangers are today my close friends, and I am so glad to have met them! They may be virtual, but they do belong to my real inner circle of friends!
    Thankfully, I am not famous (like you) 🙂 nor do I have friends running in 1000s! Phew! How DID you manage so many?
    And, last but not the least, I am so glad that I met you, communicated with you and most importantly, connected with you on a deeper level, than the others!
    Love you lots, S! <3

    1. To be honest, the ones I have are mostly people I have met in real life. Bloggers make up only 200 of the 1000. So that’s still 800 people I have met in person 🙂

      I do agree on being close to people I have met online. Those I haven’t felt close to, I have cut the ties now. Feeling better too.

  17. Such a contemplative post… and I could completely relate to it…

    I think by now I have over 3000 friends on FB… and very easily, atleast 1000 are online acquaintances either because of my blog or through friends of friends who simply liked my updates. Much that we think these are shallow relationships which perhaps hold no meaning, I am proud to say that some of the relationships that have developed into deep never ending ones started online… and that includes my husband 🙂

    About those – “I will block you because you post too much” kind of messages… I got a few of them too… and more shockingly one from a so-called ‘popular’ blogger who apparently just saw me everywhere on all his social handles, found it very disturbing and got so annoyed that he was sweet enough to write to me that he was ‘un-friending’ me because he couldn’t take it anymore…. I gladly accepted this wonderful gesture, ofcourse 🙂 sigh… the saga of online friends… sometimes… 🙂

    My husband writes very hard hitting stuff… and ofcourse the good wife in me shares everything he writes… some people have deemed his posts (which automatically become mine) as ‘hate messages’… now… in this wonderful democratic country of ours, can a person not boast of an opinion of his own? even online? oh well! so that turned the otherwise ‘sweet, chirpy and harmless Archana’ into a ‘monster spreading hate messages’…. But I am not complaining… am enjoying every facet of my virtual relationships…

    Hope I didn’t bore you with my long comment Shailaja… that too I think this is my first comment on your insightful blog… I have been following it for long and enjoy your articles… and this one especially touched a nerve which needed expression as you can tell 😉

    Cheers and have a great evening ahead!! 🙂

    P.S. officially following your blog now…

    1. Archana, I am touched that you felt compelled to leave such a detailed comment! Really appreciate it 🙂

      It is a very delicate path that we walk in social media these days and it wasn’t always like this, to be honest. People are more vociferous, rude and outright mean. The value of being behind a screen doesn’t stop them from being offensive, so they take full advantage of it. I strongly am tempted to start deleting unkind comments on my wall or my blogs (if they should ever occur). Why allow people to vent their anger against you in public?

  18. I am in agreement with Rachna’s comment above, I am quite cautious about considering the majority of my online/blogging acquaintances as ‘friends’. Especially in the blogging world, I think most of the relationships (if they can be called that) are based on “give and take”, the moment you stop giving, the ‘relationship’ vanishes 🙂 Very rarely is there a deep connection between minds and hearts, esp. when the attention is mostly fixed on becoming a more popular/successful blogger. In my two and a half years of blogging, I guess I have ‘met’ only two or three bloggers with whom I can say I have found or developed a real connection or share a similar wavelength of mind/thought/way of being. And even though I haven’t met them in real-life, I still consider them friends. Rest are acquaintances, peers, colleagues, with whom I share something in common – love for written word 🙂
    So yes, I would agree with the point about ‘fragility’ of such online ‘friends’ 🙂 But then I don’t think I will ever have 1000+ ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ on social media, so I guess I am safe! Nor am I looking for it…hahaha…

    1. Every relationship is based on give and take, if you think about it. The ones online are more dicey because we only have certain limited parameters to go upon. I would actually say I have made some very good friends through blogging and it isn’t because of the mutual admiration we have for each other’s blogs alone. In fact, I would say some which began as blogging relationships have transcended that ages ago. These are people I can call up and speak to over the phone, at length. The fact remains though that we must be circumspect in our interactions with everyone- especially online- since we could be crossing lines which are rather unclear.

  19. Twitter is a lot easier to cull. Having said that, I’ve occasionally gone through my Facebook lists and unfriended those I don’t communicate with often. Compared to you, I have very few ‘friends’ {200} and lately, the ones I find frustrating, I just unfollow.

    In general, I think friendships offline and online have become fragile thanks to social media. For instance, thanks to social media, I found out I was being excluded from a group of friends in the real world. Without social media, I’m not sure I’d have known the extent of the rejection. I know this wasn’t something you touched upon but that’s how I’ve been seeing social media and being social in general.

    As always, a thought-provoking post Shailaja. I think I need more time to think about this.

    1. How sad to know that you are being excluded. I am sorry to know that cliques exist even today. And to think we left those behind in high school. Turns out maturity is in short supply everywhere these days.

      Glad to have provoked thought, Sanch. As always 🙂

  20. Call me overly dramatic, but sometimes, when I see someone is posting too many hateful comments which are utterly irrelevant to me, I unfollow them and my heart beats really fast for a few minutes – I have no clue why this happens!!! :\

    As for Facebook friends, only a fraction of them are non bloggers and I regularly trim my Friends list for obvious reasons. Even I don’t believe online friendships are shallow, but not all friendships – online or offline – stand the test of time, sadly.

  21. Yes, agree with you. Perhaps, that’s why I have less than 200 (168 to be precise) friends on FB. Maybe not being as active on social media make it a bit easier for me… I wouldn’t be able to cull friends on my list either.

  22. In a world where so much of our 24 hours is invested online, it is only natural to have made many friends/ acquaintances via this route, I am no exception. However, I follow my own principles as far adding people (whom I’ve met online or who are part of my life beyond the Internet).

    I don’t add people to all my profiles instantly. I ponder over the kind of connection I have with the person and what content I share on a particular platform before connecting with people there. This saves me from the pain of having to explain to my friends (who don’t want to know what all I write on my blog or who are least interested in knowing about the many tweets I do everyday. And I don’t see it as an obligation from the people I follow, to follow me back, because in my mind, all friends are real (irrespective of the medium I connected with them initially) and we all are individuals first.

    So I choose to spend sometime before adding people, to spare myself the heartache that follows when deciding should we un-friend/ unfollow them without offending them.

    A wonderful, very relevant and thought provoking post. Loved it <3

    1. Spending time to decide if they are worth adding, seems like a good strategy. I don’t accept friend requests that readily now. Don’t think it’s worth my while.

  23. I’m not on FB but I will admit to finding it difficult to basically get rid of people on social media. Twitter seems a bit easier though, like many here have said, but I’m not sure why. Is it the terminology? Unfriend vs. unfollow? I have people I consider friends who I’ve never met and I do think about the fragility of those relationships.

    1. Interesting! I’ve never really thought about it.Unfriend does sound more personal, right? Twitter is not as personal, I think, so not following someone is not perceived as a slight. I presume so.

  24. I know what you mean. We all have been-there-done-that at some point. Un-friending can get ugly, but sometimes it is necessary.

    Having said that, I find it very difficult to un-friend people. Which is why, I am very cautious while adding someone to my friend list on Facebook, and unless I have a very strong reason, I let them stay on my list; just unfollow the updates. And just like you, I have no such qualms while un-following on twitter/instagram and other platforms. Weird. 😛

  25. Perhaps, that’s the very nature of friendship especially online (virtual) ones. They are destined to be fragile since the people hardly get to know each other closely. It’s a friendship of convenience, opportunism and mutual back-patting.

    Secondly, I think everyone is trying to promote self. People don’t really bother to read what the others are writing though they may vote!

    1. You know, I’d like to say I agree with you completely, but it isn’t necessarily 100% true. Yes, there are the back-scratchers and the mutual admiration society, but there are genuinely good readers and writers out there who help you because they care.

  26. A relevant topic… as you say it may be fragility in us because we are yet to totally accept that truth that online has usurped our lives. This is the way forward, though. We have to cull and embrace with integrity. At the end isn’t that what matters?
    I sometimes think how relationships would be, say 20 years later, when my child would be an adult with kids.

    1. I agree it’s going to be markedly different in the era of our grown up kids. It cannot be easy, being friends in this era, torn as we are between the memories of our childhood and the changing face of friendship today.

  27. My closest friends today are the ones I have found online, and interacted with offline. So there are those who transcend this online – offline barrier, those are the ones I cherish. I get the fragility aspect because I have been hurt before by pretend friends,. And Unfortunately it is easier to pretend online than offline.

    As I read this, I checked my list, I had gotten in this phase of adding people who I had mutual friends with, and then soon enough I took a step back. I now only add people I have interacted with and I double check setting when I post anything online.

    1. I agree that is easier to pretend online than offline. Which is why so many people do it, I suppose. Then I also find those who don’t hold back and are mean online, so it’s a weird dynamic. Some of my closest friends today are those I’ve made online. Not regretting it one bit.

  28. I have already written a lot on this topic. I think at the crux of everything as you mentioned is that we realize the fragility of these relationships. You may find it strange but I hold back with praises or love declarations as well. Who knows how long the love will last? And yes it matters if I have met the person a few times in real life as well. Else, we are all companions on a pleasant journey say like a train journey or a plane journey where we may make engaging companions but nothing more. It took me some time to get here but now I have become more practical about these online relationships. I am truly grateful for the lovely bonds that I have made and each breakup/unfriending has been a precious lesson as well.

    1. As am I, grateful I mean, for the friendships I have made here. I have also learnt not to get overly involved in the dynamic of online friendships beyond a certain point. We are, after all, on this earth for a very brief while.

  29. I know. Like Pixie says, some of the closest friends I have are bloggers. I’m thankful for their presence in my life, and for me, they are more like family. I would not call it unfriending, but when I removed my profile last year and restarted it, quite a few immediately pinged asking me why I unfriended. I still wait for some who I was close with in earlier profile to accept the request from the new profile, and add when I notice a name I know.

    What a friend means to my life wasn’t and still isn’t defined by if I have met them. but if they have made my life more beautiful in their own way.

    1. That’s a wonderful thing to hear, Leo and I am glad you’ve taken the mature outlook towards the whole friending business. It cannot be easy to navigate this in the mess of social networking today. In that sense, it is admirable.

  30. I always go through this process of unfriending people… well if a name doesn’t strike anything then there’s no point of having them in friend list. Which had happened quite often. I often stare at the name and the picture and wonder who they are 😛 Blame my bad memory. But on the other hand I don’t have the courage of removing few friends, well mostly because they have been on my list for so long. As for twitter, I really don’t care much 🙂

  31. Very thought provoking post, Shailaja. Often I wonder about the mysterious online friend world that seems so different from the real world. How we are perceived all depends on what we say or don’t say. Very powerful stuff. I often think people might be disappointed to meet me in real life. I come across as more bold and fun loving online than in real life where I am often shy and not that cheery and bubbly every moment.

    Often I’m surprised when I meet people in real life that I’m friends with on Facebook and they mention stuff they read about me. We need to remember that many people lurk and don’t comment. My sister in law is a terrible lurker for example. We have to be careful what we disclose. I’m trying to be more discreet but still have my loose lip moments where I open up too much.

    You brought up a good point about having all those friends and worrying about unfriending. In a moment of anger, I unfriended my mother in law who took it very badly saying it felt like a slap in the face. I tried to add her back but the damage was done and she didn’t accept. Just as well. I have enough trouble with her judging me in the real world. Don’t need her judging me online, too! We have a bumpy relationship as it is often fraught with misunderstanding but that’s another topic entirely that I won’t go into.

    That said, I think going through the list and unfriending now and then is a good thing to do as we tend to forget who can see our posts over time. Not everyone out there is our friend and some don’t even rate as an acquaintance either!

    Wow, you really got me nattering on, didn’t you?

    1. And what a pleasure it was to hear you nattering on 🙂 I love it when people leave such detailed comments and engage with the writer because it seems like I got you thinking, which is always a good thing, of course 🙂

      FAcebook un-friending is a nasty thing because we have too many other parameters of hope floating around. It’s not as simple as blocking an unwanted caller on your phone. Ah well, we may find something to make it work some time soon. Thank you for sharing your experience and I am sorry that you had to go through that with your MIL.

  32. FB has taught me one thing, people are like chameleons. Friends who have been part if your day for a very long time, suddenly go mute, without even explaining the reasons. I learnt to not expect anything from anyone and just be happy with the one or two genuine likes it comments. I have had enough in my life already to let more people hurt me. And that is the exact reason I am extremely cautious interacting with online friends. I am not doubting anyone’s intentions, but I hardly am strong enough to take one more blow. A very well-written piece, Shailaja!

    1. I completely hear what you’re saying. It’s not worth the mental and emotional turmoil we put ourselves through over perceived indifference from people we barely know,right? Might as well work on strengthening the bonds we have already. Thanks for reading , Rekha!

  33. I understand what you are saying.. All friendships are fragile and online are even more so.
    I treasure my blogging friends – the blog has given me fabulous friends (touchwood) and some of them are my closest and I wouldn’t call them online or blog friends.
    But, in recent times, I have seen the ugly side of it too… I’ve seen my trust broken and friendship being reduced to a sad joke. :-/
    So, I guess it’s both ugly and beautiful.

    1. Of course it is. All friendships are, if you notice. But while you can mostly smooth things over with a friend in a face to face situation, you rarely feel compelled to do it online, unless you’ve made a strong bond with the person over many years.

      1. This is quite true… and another thing that I’ve observed is – your apology is shrugged off… there is no way to show the person how sincere you are.
        And mistakes – we all make them, sadly few of us are forgiven.

  34. This pretty much explains the exact situation I am. Most of the people I am closest to today are either fellow bloggers or friends or friendships that have strengthened online. And I do cherish them. But therr are atleast 500 other people I have accepted simply because they are friends with mutual ONLINE friends and I do wonder what the point is especially when they do not keep in touch in any significant way. More importantly, I did have to face the “why did you unfriend me” comment when I eventually removed some of them which in turn made me feel guilty, even though there had been no interaction from them at all after accepting the friendship.

    Its a tricky slope we walk on with online friends… We choose many on faith but I think we do need to be bold enough to cull the list if necessary, without worrying about how they feel if they offer no friendship.

    1. I agree. The tendency to accept friend requests has almost become a reflex response these days and one must wonder if that’s a good thing. The other thing I have realised is that the slightest disagreement can snowball into something ugly on social media. Your arguments are no longer between two people. It’s between your friends and the friends of those who disagree with you. That’s what makes it even scarier. Culling makes sense, I suppose. Now to actually do it.

  35. Ah! A topic that Is close to my heart and one that teaches me lessons every now and then; not to mention the scars they bring.
    It’s true – some ( if not most) of my friends today are ones that I’ve made online and then followed up offline. And if I’m honest, it is the fact that we’ve met and spent time together that makes a difference too. The problem with most ‘online friends’ are that we’re not really friends BT mere acquaintances or a fellow blogger.
    Nice one , Shy. I’m keeping my ‘expectations’ low this year, so I hope I’ll be disappointed less when things go pear shaped with some online pals.

    1. Keeping expectations low always works in our favour, Sid. We stop investing too deeply into other relationships and spend more time with ourselves. Always a good thing. May the year be the best one for you.

  36. That may be the reason why I find it difficult to become active on F/B and twitter. I gave twitter a chance because I found you to guide me, however, the fragility of these friendships/followships continues to haunt me. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. Hey hey Anand. Happy new year! I was wondering where you’d disappeared to. So glad to see you here again!

      It’s fine to be wary of social media friendship but it’s also nice to let go once in a while and take a leap of faith. Hey, that’s how I found you, if you recall. Hope 2016 has begun well for you ☺

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