Thursday, 5 March 2009

OLFs vs RLFs

hang around cyber space for more than a millisecond and you will notice that on-line friendships, blog buddies, whatever you happen to call it (ie. OLFs), are usually treated as different to "real friends" (RLFs)
hang around a wee bit longer and someone will say that blog friends are real friends and they will, of course, be right.
my blog buddies probably know more about me than my real life friends because we are in some kind of contact most days. they probably have more idea of my concerns and my view of the world but i still insist on making a distinction between bloggers and "real friends" and that is because i feel compelled to acknowledge that our relationships are different to what we experience in everyday life.
in blogland we can delete, in life we have to just ease our foot out of our mouth. in blogland we leave a message, in real life we try to contact our friends in real time, with all of the complications that involves. in blogland we don't get stuck with the bill or wait ages for inconsiderate latecomers. bloggers don't have to watch me floss at the table or lick the side of the sauce bottle, they don't have to hang around waiting while i attend to some essential chore or cringe at an off colour joke.
on-line friendships are real, no doubt. we toss ideas around, we support each other, we "listen" to each other and make the effort to offer properly considered responses. we also seem to eventually find it neccessary to make some kind of physical connection, hence the phone calls, the postcards, the tim-tams and the dishcloths. little indicators that yes, we are real and we care and we want to be or to have a physical presence in each others lives. yes, it is real and valuable but in short, on-line friendships are not subject to the same stresses as a friendship carried on in the flesh and that's why i insist on acknowledging the difference.
it's not because an on-line friendship is "less than" a flesh and blood one because in many ways it is "more than".
and undeniably different.

as i thought about this post i wondered, what do you think is the test of an online friendship? what is the on-line equivalent of the annoying friend? or the embarassing friend? or the soon-not-to-be-friend?


  1. This blog Kylie is well considered and is well expressed where you articulate the difference between blog friends and face to face,in person friendships.

    Before the advent of emails, the internet that married digital data techniques to telecommunications, telephony across oceans and so on there existed what? Pen friendships where you wrote letters to people in distant places and lands using what is now sarcastically called snail mail.

    There are many instances where one speaks regularly to people on the phone and one imagines what the person looks like etc. They may be only kilometres away but you never do see them in person. Radio personalities similar: what do you imagine?

    Blogs are speeded up "team" pen frienships. Emails are speeded up snail mail.

    King Solomon is recorded in the OT as saying there's nothing new under the sun.

  2. I agree with John, and have long thought, that blogs were as he says "team pen friendships." I've often marveled that I have this new multitude of friendships based on writing.

    I really enjoyed this post and have more to say on the topic, but first need to drink my coffee and do the dishes. I look forward to hearing what others have to say on the topic, and I'll be back--

  3. The test of an on-line friend for me is whether you have an emotional attachment with the OLF. Do I hurt when they hurt, or do I say that's too bad and move on. Do I laugh when they laugh, or do I say that's funny and move along to the next thing. Do I really know this person and care about them, or do I just know of them?

    I agree that there are many similarities between OLF's and RLF's. Both can and do mean a great deal, and I wouldn't say one is better or more real than the other. To me, the only difference between an OLF and a RLF is a hug. But that's a big difference.

  4. Well, I find myself thinking about my OLF all the time. And sometimes I wish Bob lived closer to me so that I could actually give him a hug when he needed it, or bop him upside the head when he needed it. Which do you think I would do more of, hugging or bopping? But I also wish Suzanne lived closer because if she did, I think that she and I would be best friends. I think Leah and I could talk for hours and never get tired of what the other had to say, and Kylie, I think that you and I would have so much in common that we could be sisters. Gig, is almost like a third mother to me (I have another friend here in AK that is already my adopted mom.) But I agree, there is a difference between OLF and RLF. And most of the time, I like my OLF better.

  5. Kia ora Kylie,
    Another interesting topic, and one I have put to the test. I have met and spent some considerable time with 4 people I have met in person through this way. In each case the olf has become a rlf. So I am of the view that if we are honest and genuine in who we are and if our writing andcomments reflect that the line between olf and rlf becomes blurred. It is a reflection of our true selves.

  6. I'll send you a post card if you send me some timtams! :)

    I have to think about this some more before I go on with this comment, but it's almost midnight and I've got to get to bed. I'll be back.

    No, really, I will this time.

  7. so true. i rather like this post and want to repost it - with credit of course. but not now as i'm in the process of migration. :)

  8. I have been thinking about this. I am curious as to how one can feel a connection with someone you have never actually met. Is it 'real'? Some would say not, because online you can present whatever 'face' you want to.

    Although the blogs are public,I sometimes do feel that I am butting in on a close circle of friends.

    I think the great thing about OLFs is that you have someone you can exchange ideas with- there is someone to listen to whatever you have to say! There is nothing worse than having thoughts and no-one to say them to! And conversely, it's an opportunity to listen to the views of other people. It's good to practise listening!

    but you've worried me now- i hope i am not the equivalent of your 'embarrassing/annoying friend' !!!!!!!!! :)

    oh no you've got me all paranoid now.......

  9. dad,
    you are right, it is like the old time pen friendship, only so much more immediate !

  10. leah,
    i was about to ask why you would be doing dishes at 1.52am.

    then i realised it was MY 1.52am :)


  11. bob,
    well, you have just made my point! the differences are small but big!


  12. cece,
    somehow i imagine you would bop bob more often than hug him !

    i have to agree, OLFs are pretty good !

  13. robb,
    i have to agree. the line is definitely blurred.
    i hope i get to meet my blog buddies someday......


  14. megan,
    i know you will be back sometime, the question is when ??

    ok, you send a postcard and i will send tim tams!

  15. media junkie
    welcome here!

    come back soon and we'll talk about a re-post

    wishing you well with the migration :)


  16. cinnamon,
    over time it becomes pretty obvious that a persons true character is quite visible online. some say it is more difficult to put on a face online than in "real life"
    i havent decided on that one yet

    theres no doubt that we are a close bunch but you shouldn't feel you are butting in. we have a little more history with each other than with you but you will soon catch up :)

    you're funny! i wasnt suggesting that i have any embarrassing OLFs because i dont. but what is the online equivalent of the friend who flosses at the table????


  17. Wow, this is so damn interesting. I'll be blunt. Who I am on line is who I am in person. I don't know how to be different. If you love me here, you'll love me anywhere. (Isn't that a Broadway show or movie?!!!) I know a lot of games are played on line, but I don't play those games. I just don't. You know my life...who has the time for that sort of crap??? What a waste of valuable time. I couldn't pretend my life or me, and why would I? I know who I am and I'm not willing to screw around. I can't even imagine any of our dear friends are doing that. We all know one another. We care, we worry, we go above and beyond in times of need. No, I don't think anyone in this circle, new or old, is disingenuous. I'd put money on it. I know people. We all came together for a reason and it wasn't to be dishonest with one another. If the opportunity to actually meet in person every arises, I'm confident the joy will be overwhelming because I think what blogging has done is allowed us to be us. What you see is what you get. And we're all pretty brutally honest about who we are, and if we aren't, the truth is pretty transparent! (For instance...Suze can be a bitch!)

    Love you all!

  18. Suze can be a crazy bitch, but she and I are BEST OLF's so I can say that and get away with it.

    Just know we will welcome you with open arms, just try not to be afraid of us once you get here.

    *Cece gives Bob a virtual bop up side the head* That's for making me cry you big doofus head. Now give me a damn hug or else. ((hugs))

  19. Kylie, G'day,
    Had to switch accounts; otherwise this would have been Jo speaking. If Jo ever said anything out of line the planet would stop revolving!
    So here goes:
    Break out the violins; I have never read such sentimental codswallop in all my born days. LOL
    I can say that because you're all my OLF's :)

    G'day everyone.

  20. Humph! I just left here to get a refreshing Carlton Draught from the 'fridge and stepped on a creaky floor board. Jo called out from the kitchen,"I heard that!". She thought I had farted. Jo has advised me that this thought does NOT need to be embellished!

  21. suze,
    i'm better online because i dont put my foot in my mouth quite so often.......
    or maybe it's all of you who should decide on that :)


  22. cece
    why you are best OLF with a crazy bitch like that i will never know!!


  23. mark,
    if you think that is sentimental you havent been reading me of late :)

    i must keep in mind the whole floorboard excuse........

    have a great weekend

  24. Okay, who farted? *Takes Kylies red shoe out of mouth and says "Who you callin' a crazy bitch?!"*

    Honey, we'll take you any way we can get you. We adore the hell out of you. What actually amazes me is how many times we all put our foot in our mouth and yet are forgiven. Well...most of the time! Yes, there have been exceptions. Okay, put on the water for a cup of tea. I'm on the way over. Do you have some banana bread or something?

    Love you!

    P.S. Cece, love you too! Your BBOLF. God that was a mouth full.

    P.P.S. No Bob's crystal over at the Wild Onion is a mouth full. (I'm so, so, so tempted to say something, but won't. I suspect you both know what I'm thinking...*looks around with one good eye!*)

  25. I'm the same in person as I am online, other than the annoying voice, so I'd have to say the only difference I've noticed is that people online tend to be a wee more fickle than Rlf's. By that I mean, if you don't post for a while, they abandon you. I've had it happen. I think we all have.

    But then again, all my true blue OLF's have stuck by no matter what. So that's pretty similar to a real life friendship.

    Now I can't think of any difference. Hmmm. Other than like Bob said, the hug thing. And he's right.


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