I came to a realization today that even people I haven’t met face-to-face know my name. This world with the internet is an amazing thing. Gaps that once existed, like age and distance, no longer matter. I am on a first name basis with people I have never met thanks to such a thing. In the past, you could only call people your friends if you had a good enough relationship with them, but now, people will believe they have a close relationship with people they have never physically met just because they can call each other by their real names instead of their online handle. The definition of a friend has changed in the past years.
If you are determined enough, you can go by the same (fake) name on multiple websites/games/networks and that can then become who you are on the net. I have personally used a number of handles to identify myself, the most recent being this Tumblr identity, Thirdland. Do people following this know the real me? Do the people in the games I frequent or the networks I partake in know the real me? Probably not, because people use the internet to create their ideal selves - the people they feel deep down they really are. I am the same way. In the real world, we act in such a way that people around us act in order to be acceptable. If we didn’t, we would become ostracized because of how radically different we acted in comparison to how we are supposed to act. This isn’t some sort of fake self - it’s the way we’re supposed to be in the real world. It’s courtesy. You can’t just curse out someone you hate and beat the shit out of them - at the most you can just act snippy and sarcastic to them to show them that you dislike them. Hitting them or acting violent (either verbally or physically) would have repercussions. On the net, you can act however you want because there aren’t many dangers to doing such a thing. If you don’t like someone, you can just ignore them and block out anything they have to say. You can actually erase a person from ever contacting you.
I for one am glad we live in an age where such a thing is possible. You can never leave your home and interact with millions of people. You can then filter the people you don’t like or don’t want to hear from until you are just left with like-minded people that agree with you. In this day and age, a true friend, one you can be with both online and off, are pretty hard to come by. Someone you can enjoy your time with, even if you don’t agree 100% with on all issues. No one is completely alike, but when you find those people, either through online means or by chance on the street/at school/at work that you can have an enjoyable time with, it is truly a miracle.
The people that I know today that I still keep in contact with were mostly found online, and I would love to get the chance to meet them in real life. With the internet, you don’t have to worry about things like looks or social status - everyone is equal online. If you are able to see each other for what you really are and still want to talk and interact with them, then that is truly a friend.