Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Invisible Friends

Blog friends. Message board friends. Email friends. What do you call them? When I'm joking, I call them my imaginary internet weirdo friends, my buddies inside the computer.

My heart is really heavy tonight. I post on a message board for moms and two of the posters there have had horrible losses in the past couple of days. One woman's husband was killed in a car crash and another woman's young daughter died. I don't really know these women, but reading their stories has been tough. Another woman whose blog I read daily is going thru a divorce and reading about the impact this is having on her daughter is agonizing.

Sometimes it seems maudlin and a trifle stupid to be so upset by other people's problems. After all, I've never met any of these women and I don't know them personally, but they are people I "speak" to often, exchange comments with and for some reason, their sorrows are hitting me hard.

This sucks. Sucks, sucks, sucks and hurts. A lot.


LJ said...

Yes it does!! We (you and I and others) were born with our hearts on our sleeves. When we love, we love deeply, no matter who or what or where, we just love. THAT'S why it hurts!
I belong to a message board, yahoo group of Special Moms to Special kids (kids with varying degrees of special needs) Some of them have died and it's so so so very sad. You talk to these moms for years and don't think it'll happen but it does and that's a very sad reality.
I'm sorry you are hurting!

Josi said...

J, even though you don't know them in the physical sense, you do know them through their opening up to you and being there and seeing their emotions. In some ways I think internet friends are some of the deepest friends you can have because of the level of emotions one pours into things when it is still semi-annoynmous.
I had a complete meltdown when Juliagoolia passed because we shared so much on a daily basis and it was just through the internet. Never in person. It's amazing how many emotions you put into a non physical relationship, but it doesn't make it any less special and real, even if they are "invisible".
Sorry for you losses through your friends.

floreksa said...

It has been a very tough, tough week. My heart is heavy right now. Being an internet friend is so difficult too because you can't hug them, you can't hold them and let them cry. You're stuck behind a computer and anything you try to write just seems to cold and empty.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

It takes stuff like that to make one realize how much of an emotional investment these on-line lives are.

Lara said...

oh, i hear you. i feel such a closeness to my bloggy friends, i react very strongly to their struggles as well as their victories. when mom101 announced her pregnancy, i was running around telling all my friends - "mom101 is pregnant!" - as if she were my best friend or something. and when she found out about her possible toxo problems, i waited anxiously for weeks to find out if she was okay. these are real ties - real relationships - even if they don't involve face-to-face meetings.

sorry so many people you know are struggling. :-/

Angewl said...

Its hard for me to put into words how I feel or what I am thinking. Nothing sounds right when I try to put it down.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Julia. This may sound strange, but I find it touching that you are thinking of us.

And I don't find it strange in the least.

Anonymous said...

We find that we care about these people whose words touch us in so many ways.

I often find myself thinking of "my friends in the computer" as my real friends and the ones in real life as acquaintances. I just don't get the same amount of play time with them as I get with my online buds.

I'm sorry you're hurting for them and feeling helpless. I've been there. It does suck.

Nicole P said...

Usually, I use some awkward sort of phrasey thing like... My, ah, friend - ah, you know that I know from the blogs ah, computer... um... I should just refer to you as internet weirdo friends. Or my nerdy pals from the box...

I don't think you're crazy either - when someone I "know" online only is hurting - it hurts. Especially given that often I understand EXACTLY what they are going through, which is not necessarily the case with my real-life friends. I think because online we seek out communities specifically because the people in them might understand us and what we're going through - while in real life, we don't typcially do that... Does that make sense?

Zazzy said...

I have web friends who have evolved into real life friends - or somewhere in between. Net weirdos sounds like a good description and I may just steal it.

I agree, though, about how difficult and awkward being a net friend can be. Particularly when something terrible happens, typing something in these little boxes just seems so inadequate.

Penny Ratzlaff said...


I think the world would be a much better place if more people did care about others and what was happening to them.

I get what you're saying, though.

For example, when Jamie's Danielle was diagnosed with Celiac's, I cried. I've never met Jamie and probably never will. But, I can have empathy for her, because I know how much it would suck if Riley was diagnosed with Celiac's.

Plus, even though I don't know you, know you, I know you. You know?

We're all just human being trying to do the best we can. And to see a fellow human suffer should have us all in tears

Shannon said...

What people write touch our emotions. And communicating through emails or comments is just as plausible a friendship as it is speaking to someone on the phone or even face to face.

We know each other in a different capacity than if we saw each other face to face. Just a different dimension of friendship and comraderie.

art-sweet said...

I was just thinking about this today - Snickollet's husband died -and people all over my little corner of the internet were linking to her and mourning along with her. It has been a truly crappyweek out there in blogland.

Joke said...

Where is it written that you must have physical contact with someone to be their friend?


Kerri. said...

Joke - that's truly it. Physical contact doesn't solidify a friendship. I have strong feelings for so many people that I have never met and may never meet. I can't count how many times I've cried when reading a blog post, or laughed, or executed a combination of both.

The internet is amazing in that we can enjoy a closeness with people that we otherwise may have never known existed.

cadiz12 said...

so true.

these days because of my schedule, i feel a lot closer to the blog people than the ones i've actually met in real life.

hope things start to not suck soon.

Drea said...

The support online often outweighs face on support! Reading comments make me feel content!

Joke said...



The Internet is actually BETTER than the "physical" world because we are prevented from having our prejudices come into play. Our physical friendships are usually (not always, but usually) with people who more or less look like us, talk like us, have similar life experiences, agree with us on hot-button issues, etc.

Online, personalities -- as expressed through words and laid bare in a strange sort of honest fearlessness -- are all we've got to go on. We don't know if so-and-so voted for Smith or Jones, or if so-and-so worships Baal or is a devout Druid or what.

We connect because the narratives of a life lived resonate within us.

Which strikes me as a damned sight more important that whether we shop at the same grocery store.


Anonymous said...

You know how I feel about my invisible friends; they've been a lifeline, and some have become in-the-flesh friends, too.

I'm sorry you're hurting.

TSM Oregon said...

What a wonderful, huge heart you have. Thank you for reminding me.

Anonymous said...

Is easy to treat those you meet on the internet as less than human. Look at any forum.

Someone like you who remembers the humanity behind the keyboard is a rare thing. I have nothing that will easy the pain and empathy you are feeling.

If it's any consolation, I'm doing OK. (If the other side of the coin counts for anything.)

OhTheJoys said...

I have gone to bed at night worrying about bloggers sometimes. You follow their lives more closely than some of your "real" life friends - I think because the anonymity alows more truth or something.

Kendra said...


Some people like to pass online relationships off as unmeaningful or fake. The reality is that many people today are meeting their best friends, their greatest confidants, and the loves of their lives online. I'm one of them - and the 5 year long distance relationship was completely worth it.

It's not maudlin to be impacted by happenings in your friends' lives. If someone hasn't met a friend online, they don't understand how deeply you can come to know someone without ever being physically near them. Humans are cerebral AND physical creatures - and we need both kinds of socialization to be happy and healthy - but it doesn't mean you can't make a deep connection with a a far away person.

It's taken me awhile to quit being embarassed about my "how we met" story, but now I'm totally over it and know how lucky I am to have known my husband so intimately before we married, thanks to our online communication. All we could do was TALK TALK TALK (...well, and we had a little help from a webcam.) The feelings and friendships are completely genuine and heartfelt. ((Julia))