Maintaining an online friendship
By Sadira Sittampalam Ceylon Today Features
Technology is a wonderful thing. It helps bring people closer and stay connected. It also helps kindle new friendships, and sometimes even relationships. You could be on the other side of the world, and be able to connect with someone from a totally different part of the world, and still talk, and see each other within seconds (virtually, of course). Here’s a few tips on maintaining a blossoming online friendship.
Limit talk time
The first important thing about maintaining an internet friendship is to realise that you do not have to talk every single day. If you do, you’ll start to get bored of each other and run out of things to say, especially whenever the friendship first starts, because you want to make sure that you’re not being too intrusive and turn them away.
It’s also important to realise that sometimes you, or your friend is busy and that you won’t be able to talk to each other every single day. A good internet friend will forgive that; that friend should not get mad at you and if they do then that’s definitely a red flag you need to get away from. Just let them know you’ll be busy and you’ll text them when you’re free so they know what’s going on, and dont think youre ghosting them.
Find out what kind of traits you appreciate in a friend; witty, a sense of humour, smart, and look for them in people you’re talking to online. Try to video or voice call so you can get to know the person better, and gain a level of trust and comfort. Once you’ve established that, then texting is much easier, since you two will feel as though you know each other personally.
Relate to each other
Things like sharing memes can be a small and silly way to reach out. When someone tags me in a meme or sends me one, it’s a way for them to say they thought of me and wanted to let me know. But it’s what’s in the meme that matters; most of the time you can look at one and think, ‘oh, that’s so me’, or ‘this reminds me of my friend’. They’re a very effective way to get to know the person and their sense of humour.
Ask open-ended questions. Reflect back to them what you’re understanding — the written medium is easier to misinterpret, after all — and even if you can do nothing else, tell them you’re ready to give them your time. When it’s so easy to text people, it can feel like an insult when you don’t spare those thirty seconds to send a quick text.
Make sure you’re on board with what the other people you’re friends with online want. If you only ever want to vent to them, it might be draining for them to stay in touch with you. If you’re constantly offering solutions when they want emotional support, they’re not going to feel heard. Communicate your expectations for what you both want out of the friendship early and often.
It’s okay if it doesn’t work out
You might think that you’re gonna be internet best friends for the rest of your lives and then you meet them and think ‘oh no, this wasn’t meant to be’ and that’s okay. There are many people that put on a fake personality behind a screen, and they’re completely different in person.
But you can always stay friends, and you accept that the friendship may fade out eventually. If you’re meant to be internet best friends then you’re meant to maintain your friendship for years and years; once you meet each other literally everything will fall into place. If it’s meant to be, it will be.