OT: Scare quote friendships

Don’t let anyone tell you that social media “friends” are not real friends.

I suppose, if they’re only scare quotes “friendships,” that that could be true.

But you know, we can also have “friends” among the relationships with people who surround us every day.

I’ve been told that social media friends are only friends in words, but when push comes to shove they’re not there for you in meaningful ways. That they can hurt you just like a real friend can, but they can’t help you. All social media friends do is talk pretty. They don’t come across.

I agree that one point in discerning a real friend is knowing what someone will do for you when they know something’s wrong.

I found out.

My social media friends are real. Without scare quotes.

~ by Servetus on September 2, 2012.

48 Responses to “OT: Scare quote friendships”

  1. Mine too…and I feel truly blessed because of it!

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  2. Here here. People do like to get hysterical about how technology alters communication and/or relationships — I’m sure you’d find people during the 1910s & 1920s inveighing about how the radio was going to ruin civilization, just as there were people saying it would save civilization.

    Social media friendships often come about differently than other kinds, but who cares? it doesn’t invalidate or cheapen the friendship itself, even if I have far too many Facebook “friends” who are really colleagues — or even a few people in my field whom I’ve never met.

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    • at the moment, it’s also the case that I just spend a lot of time on social media — so you’re in fact more likely to know what’s up with me than you might if you were in my physical presence, as well.

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    • But fears that people will become abandoned in cyberworld do not necessarily need to be more intense than fears that people will become abandoned in real life.

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  3. Is it too embarrassing to admit that my best friend right now is probably an N&S Internet frend whom I’ve never really met? As a stay at home mom with no family (or close friends) nearby, these type of friends are a lifeline to my emotional well-being. I treasure them as real.

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    • For those of us who are “far away” it really is a g-dsend.

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    • Thank you, Trudy, for bravely admitting to the reality of our modern lives!

      I may have a very different daily life to yours today – I’m on planes traveling for work between the US and London, with split residences, coordinating global schedules for projects from NYC to London to Hong Kong. But the no family or close friends nearby emotional deficit also applies (not to mention mild confusion for where I am some travel days). 🙂

      Every friendship requires an investment of time and depth of attention for others – and I find these to be very good measures of who your friends are, whether they be virtual or physically present.

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      • you need to read Pattern Recognition.

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        • Woah, like, really?? 😉

          For a second there, your response seemed eerily similar to that of ‘intersect controlled’ Chuck Bartowsky of NBC’s quirky show “Chuck”!! Yahoo! That show also had Matt Bomer in it as ‘Bryce Larkin’! Wow, check out the pattern recognition already! 😉

          Um, did I write something in the comment to trigger this directive?

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          • yes, but I can’t say exactly what. Maybe the thing about the time zones and travel. Not sure. I’m going to reread it this week, too.

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  4. Friendship is what you put into it and get out of it whether it’s in physical contact or virtual contact. Sometimes the give and take goes off balance such is life, sometimes a friendship survives those or not. In any case the virtual ones have become a lifeline for me and made the world a better (smaller?) place 🙂

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    • Yes. I wonder now how my life might have been different if I hadn’t mostly lost touch with one entire social network when I moved to Germany the first time. I can’t imagine that would happen now.

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  5. Living in a place that I don’t really consider home, with very few people I consider friends, I completely agree. The friendships I have courtesy of the internet aren’t lesser friendships because I’ve never met these people in real life. They’re just different, but different is okay! 🙂

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    • Yeah. I think people who object think that a cyberfriend can’t come to you physically. But that can also have its advantages.

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  6. Servetus,

    I first saw some variant of this “Managed Friendship Network” in the 90s, when HMOs were being introduced. It’s still REALLY funny, however, and worth a read. My favorite answers come after “What’s wrong with my current friends?” and “What is a Friendship Emergency” 🙂

    I definitely remember actually WISHING such a system existed! 🙂

    http://www.holisticmed.com/humor/friend.html

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  7. Thanks for these reassuring words. They mean a lot to me!

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    • yeah — one can wonder if one’s spending too much time with screen friends. I don’t think I’ve gotten there yet, though.

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      • Living in a city which I can call home, having some dear friends to meet and talk, and in addition a couple of very nice collegues to go out with, until shortly that’s what I typically would consider my „RL“ friendships. I regard myself to be more the talkative person instead of say writing emails and have only recently started to leave comments on blogs on an observably more regular basis.
        Now preferring to stay on my own more often, as work has frequently become rather exhausting (and me desperately needing my RA fix!!!), I ended up spending much more time in front of my laptop that I’d bought shortly after Armitagemania had hit me. I count myself to be still a kind of a newbie to internet blogs (soon it will be 2 years!! 🙂 ) but it’s only here that I feel understood and can act out that certain „brimming passion“ with like-minded fans. It’s as well defenitely an extra effort to write all this in English and it’s sometimes true hard work. Being more the reader than the writer I’m quite often really impressed about how much and how fast you and a couple of others communicate on all the various social media!!! I rank myself among the RA-community, and hopefully have some cyberfriends out here 😉 „wink-wink“, but am a bit unconfident to name it that way.

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  8. Wonderful comments!

    And I just read “scare quotes” on Wikipedia….? I use quotation marks to signify that something is a title eg. “Black Sky”, “Spooks”. etc. I’m old-fashioned, I know, but then I went to school from 1952 to 1964.

    For me, that has absolutely nothing to do with Wikipedia’s description! But then, I’m not much of a fan of Wikipedia – it’s hardly the authority most people seem to think it is. It’s NOT the Encyclopaedia Britannica

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    • I linked the article because I wanted non-U.S. readers not to have to ask themselves what “scare quotes” are. If you believe the article to be in error, and see yourself as an authority, you should probably edit it to correct it. Wikipedia lets people do that. I am sure they will appreciate your help.

      There are three or four uses of quotation marks in English, one of which is to designate titles; what wikipedia says about scare quotes offers IMO an accurate description of how scare quotes are used in the U.S. to indicate irony, and in fact, in the U.S., they’ve translated into a gesture that my students call “bunny ears,” which involves making a motion with the index and middle fingers of both hands when using or quoting a phrase that is supposed to indicate irony. Of course, every culture has different rules for this sort of indication — in German, for instance, there’s an entire verb tense (subjunctive 2) that indicates the effort of the speaker to distance him/herself from the text of the source being reported, that also can be used to indicate a slight tinge of irony.

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  9. My best friend and I started as penfriends back in February 1996, when I wrote to a place who hooked up people in the U.S.A. and the U.K. for a small fee. I was given three names and a bit about each one. Being that I wanted to “met” someone from the U.K. I wrote all three. One of those girls and I hit it off and became good friends then best friends. We have only met face to face once, December 1998 when I when over to the U.K. when I was seven months pregnant to met with her and her family, what a great time we had. Son 1 also has a friend from the U.K. who he met on the internet, but they have never met in person. I know some of his closes friends are all online friends who he met while playing flight sim. I think its what one puts into the friendship that counts not the face to face time or even spending all of ones time with one or two people.

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  10. I have many friends that I have met through social media like forums or Facebook. I have met some of them IRL. I consider them and those who I have not met IRL as “real friends”. 🙂

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    • I feel like cyberfriends with common interest can even be more intensive relationships than people we know in our real lives. I suppose the intensiveness of the cyberrelationship can be problematic on some level, but for me it’s been largely productive.

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  11. Technology has definitely changed what friendship can mean. I’ve found better friends on the internet than in real life. I suspect cyberspace requires me to work harder to get to know people than in real life.

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    • Agreed — I work harder w/cyberfriends.

      I also think the Internet facilitates friendships around niches — you might search for a long time IRL to find someone who also watches Spooks, for instance, but on the Internet you can find them instantly.

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  12. When someone likes the same things it is so easy to talk to them. I know that is why son 1 has such good friends online. If you live in a small community it is very hard to find someone that likes most things British like I do, but online its a whole different story.

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    • Katie70, I think I’m on here for inverse reasons!! 😀

      I live and work in London and do enjoy my job here (challenges and all) but I also miss the US. So interacting with this community keeps me in touch with a fun contingent of Americans (interested in a British actor) while helping me appreciate aspects of the country in which I currently live. 😉

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  13. I know that if I ever talked about R.A. at work the girls would think I was crazy. They would not get it. The only thing they know is that I hardly ever watch US TV, its all from the UK unless the family watching something. I am lucky that my family gets me. My husband is right there to watch Masterpiece with me but I don’t talk about R.A. with them. I do know he thinks he is a good actor. Yes he watched North and South with me.

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    • I talk about him at work sometimes — but not in anything like the proportion I think about him. One nice thing about universities is that people are really friendly toward other people’s extreme interests — since we are all extremely interested in something.

      Good on hubby for watching N&S!

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  14. I used to be a little dismissive of people who seemed to rely on the internet for their friendships until I delurked on the RA blogs. It’s been such a wonderful experience getting to know the regular contributors online and off, and of course being able to express my feelings for RA freely. I don’t have that in RL. That’s not to downplay the importance of my physical friends, of whom I really only have about three or four close ones, we just don’t “do” Richard.
    As my mother said, it’s the modern version of penfriends. 🙂

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    • yes, physical friends are important, too, something else I’ve had a testament to, recently. 🙂 And no, they don’t know about Armitage.

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  15. I met one of my best RL friends on an Australian online tennis forum back in 1998. We both live in Budapest but ironically we would never have met had it not been for the fact that we were both fans of the same Australian tennis player! 😀 On the same forum I befriended a lovely American lady whom I never met in person but we still keep in touch via email and occasional phonecalls. It was on that forum that I first started commenting and communicating with fellow fans in English. I’m going to a rough patch in RL at the moment and I really don’t know what I’d do without my lovely Armitageworld friends.. 🙂

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  16. […] feelings have changed since then. I have solid fan friends now, including people whom I would never have guessed would have befriended me. I didn’t start […]

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  17. […] don’t mean that in the sense that I don’t love or am ungrateful for the closeness I feel to my fan friends — I […]

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  18. […] Because about nine months ago virtual friends who “knew” something was wrong contacted me and put together a “he…. […]

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  19. […] mother took ill, I’d found friends to hold me up with their thoughts, prayers and comments. My “scare quotes” friends turned out to be real, too and they proved it over and over […]

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  20. […] and in some cases, allowed differences to become less important. As I’ve learned repeatedly, my virtual friends are real, and this was never more true than in the weeks and months after my mother’s death. You all […]

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  21. […] hurt feelings that what I am writing could cause. Please be aware that I’ve always thought my Internet friendships were real and meaningful. How to be a friend in this setting is also something I’ve had to learn. I […]

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