I've had 'online friends' for years. Getting the internet was such an exciting thing for me as a kid. It meant I could find a world of people that liked the same things I did and would talk to me about them anytime. So believe me when I tell you that I'm no n00b to having 'online friends'. I am new to having online friends that I can actually see and talk to and are video creators like me. It's been a weird couple of weeks but ever since Vidcon my 'online' friendship count has astronomically increased. I believe it was partially due to the comfort of meeting these people in person first and the sense of comradery that was thick in the air. We could all be ourselves and not be judged for this one glorious weekend.
What I real want to address though is the term 'online friend' and it's stigma. At a time it was thought to be a creepy concept worthy of a visit by Chris Hansen. In the last, oh I don't know, 10 years or so it's gotten a little more respect and credibility. Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, smart phones, and such are to thank for making communicating on the internet mainstream. The problem I seem to run up against is the canyon-like separation I feel between my friends I met (or mostly talk to) on the internet and my friends I made at school and actually see on a semi regular basis. (at least more than my so called 'online friends') Yes, the two worlds tend to collide at times and the term IRL (in real life) is pointless because the internet is still real life, and I hate the term 'online friends' almost as much as I hate the term 'viral video' but can't seem to find a better way to explain it to my (oh dear) 'IRL' friends...
I guess my general frustration stems from the fact I'm so used to hanging out in groups (in high school, at college, parties, etc.); that to have all of these individual friends I interact with online (even though some of them tend to know one another anyways) and no place/ability to hang out with offline in a group (google+ chat rooms do not count...not like I've been invited to one yet) Yes there are BlogTV shows and such, but again, online meet-ups does not count! I guess I could just be wishing to relive Vidcon, like so many of the people who were there do. Or maybe I want all of my high school and college friends to attend Vidcon and interact with my 'online friends' and accept it and say it's cool and not weird.
I don't know why I'm having such a struggle with this. I guess I want to make sure my 'online friendships' don't dwindle and that we don't loose contact. It's so much easier to forget friends when you can't hang out with them in physical places. I don't want that to happen. So, to all my 'online friends' (ugg, is there a better term for you?) though I can not take you all out to coffee like I want, please let me take to you to virtual coffee. What I mean is, go bother me on one of my many online locations, go, do it now, just say hi or something or comment here. And to my old friends whom I've shared experiences with and grew up with, lets go out for real coffee sometime. Lets not let it slip into the classic: "We never hang out, lets hang out more!" because we all know that never actually leads to any hanging out.