I have started to patronise this series in POGO called 'Noah and Saskia' ['You got mail' for aussie/brit preteens and teens] about two 14yr olds who have a internet based 'friendship' across the oceans and hemispheres which as any intelligent viewer would know will get complicated into 'something more deeper' by the season finale. Although the latter deeping part is the stuff that sells cheap, trashy books and movies, I am here to talk about the first part- making friends with some person online.
1]You've never seen the person
Ok so some ppl may argue with two basic points; You can always share photos if it comes to that and Looks are not important in a friendship. Fair Enough. Anything in this world can be twisted out of its inherent goodness. I could send a photo of Bips and say its me to some guy from Poland. As for looks not being important, the first judgement you make of a person, initial impression has to do with the physical aspect only [unless you had your third eye activated after intensive tantric and yogic pratices in the outer reaches of the Himalayas]. So in this scenario, You are taking a shot in the dark while committing to something as sacred as friendship and the implicit trust and dependance that comes with it.
2]You scratch the surface of the lies to find more lies, exaggerations, stretches and some truth
Why do we not present a proper picture of ourselves when we are sure the person can't know the reality? two-fold mainly- one is that if we reveal to them the truth about themselves, we make ourselves vulnerable and instinct screams against it; and the next is the more common factor- we are not happy with what we are and will employ some stretches of half-truths or plainly resort to lies and project ourselves as those we might consider ideal or perfect.
There is always that 3rd possibility, I will explain briefly as the next heading
3]The ol friend(s) could be creeps, pervs and in general anti-social elements
Not something I need to dwell upon, all will know of the horror stories associated with this. All they do is lie. Their intention is to harm. They will be the most perfect ol friends and earn your trust before they utterly ruin a life cheerfully.
4] You are too shy/ have problems making regular friends
So ol friends become the escape route? Nothing can replace a flesh-and-blood tangible friend in real-life. More well-adjusted people swear on this. This factor might lead to a normal, if a little shy, person turning into the creatures discussed in #3.
Opens up your mind
With the global boundaries disappearing in the cyber world one realises that there are just some people distributed geographically or more accessible ol who share common interests.
Its funny how people not connected can have eerily similar tastes and ideas. Or even better when people connect and complement each other's theories and concepts.
They might introduce one to newer topics, rehash old ideas and in general be good friends in that regard. I don't know 90% of the people in my blogroll, but I visit their blogs daily and feel admiration or kinship for their ideas and work. Same goes for people who meet in regulated specialised Forums (I didnt say chat rooms). There is an occasional creep to handle but mostly its ok.
They are available
Starting from tips to cracking CAT to the review of the latest movie, ol friends are just a IM or post away. Your offline friends might not be this easily available for you.
Dont lie. If you dont want to reveal, say 'I'm not comfortable giving this info out. Sorry'
Stay sharp and aware
Set limits and boundaries and stick to them
Maintain healthy intentions and ensure the same from the other
Continue to nurture and expand your offline friends circle. Nothing can replace them.
Look for intellectual company and not love [that would put you in desparate category unless You are Tom Hanks or Meg Ryan.]
Move away when it gets weird. RUN.
Now you can enjoy the virtual company of some of the great minds, who think the same as you!!