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Are Online Friendships Real?

Are Online Friendships Real? I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for ages. Years, actually. Better late than never, right?

When you first hear those awful words, you have cancer; it sometimes feels as if you are alone in the whirlwind of cancer chaos. No matter how many loved ones surround you, there is often still a sense of isolation.

Of course, you realize plenty of others before you have walked in cancer shoes; but all of a sudden, it’s your turn to stumble around in them. You realize you have no idea how you’re ever going to ‘stand up straight’ much less walk with confidence in these ‘ill-fitting shoes’ again.

And then one day (or one night ‘cuz sleep is no longer your friend), you find yourself online discovering a whole new world of support opening up for you.

It might be via a blog (like this one, hopefully), or it might be through Facebook. It might be on Twitter, TikTok, or Instagram. The venue isn’t important, but the connections you make are.

Without a doubt, my online interaction has been a beacon in the darkness that is cancer, one of them anyway. And let’s be honest, we need as many beacons as possible to help illuminate the way through the cancer maze. It’s not realistic, or even fair, to expect loved ones to carry the full load of support.

Can online friends help you find your way through the #cancer maze? #onlinefriendships #cancersupport
Do your online friends help you find your way through the cancer maze?

It makes me sad to think how women (and men) in generations before us suffered, and so much of the time, they did so in silence. It makes me sad to think that many still do.

What if you weren’t able to talk with others about cancer much, or even at all?

Imagine not sharing with and supporting others who’ve been there or are who where you are now.

Think about the feelings of loneliness and despair that kind of isolation could potentially stir up or magnify.

Thankfully, today at least many of us do not have to go it alone.

In-person support groups can be great, of course; but there’s something special about being able to find another welcoming “voice” out there 24/7 while sitting at home in the dark, in your pjs, in front of your computer screen or while clutching your phone.

The sharing that goes on is phenomenal. It’s a lifeline like none other.

The great thing is that everyone shares from a different vantage point. Everyone’s voice is unique. Some of us are cancer newbies, and some of us have a bit of experience under our cancer belts.

Everyone’s cancer resume is different. There is much to learn from one another and tons of support to offer and/or receive. The gifts of understanding, compassion and guidance are doled out on a daily and nightly basis. We are a diverse group, each of us from our own little corner of the globe sharing experiences, opinions, fears, frustrations, advice and yes gripes. We are different, and yet, we are similar. Cancer Havers share a bond like none other.

Are online #friendships real? #friendship #onlinecommunity #socialmedia #whatsafriend

Yes, online support is a wonderful thing. All you have to do is reach out. It’s there. It’s worth the reach. If you haven’t reached out yet, I recommend that you do. I promise you will not be sorry.

When you do, something surprising will happen; well, it was surprising to me anyway in the beginning. Some of the people you interact with online will become your friends, in every sense of the word.

Of course, the downside of interacting online, or in person, in Cancer Land is that the inevitable happens; people you come to know and care about die. This has happened more times then I care to count.

You might want to read, How Many Times Can Our Hearts Break?

Losing friends, online or otherwise, is hard. The heartache is real.

So, why don’t I pull back?

I can’t. I won’t. The friendships mean too much.

Sure, some people don’t consider online friendships to be real. I say, that’s their loss.

What makes a friend a friend anyway?

Are online friendships real? 

Are online #friendships real? #friendship #friend #community #onlinesupport #onlinecommunity #socialmedia #cancersupport

We all have our own “what makes a friend requirements,” but as for the second question, there’s no doubt in my mind that the answer is an emphatic, yes. I know it to be true.

I know it because in the end, it doesn’t matter how many times you and a friend get together for lunch, how many text messages you exchange or how many phones calls you make to one another.

It doesn’t matter if you never meet.

Genuine friendship is not based on such things. True friendship is something more. It’s something you cannot see, touch or measure; it’s an intangible thing. But when you experience it, you know it’s real, and you know it’s something special.

I am grateful every day for the friends I have met and grown to care about online. Some of my best friends “live” in my computer.

There’s no doubt in my mind; online support and friendships are real indeed.

You might want to read, When Bloggers Meet.

Share your opinion about online friendships via my poll below and/or share a comment below as well. (Voting is limited to once every 24 hours. I think.)

Do you think online friendships are real?
23 votes · 23 answers
VoteResults

Do you think online friendships are real?

What’s one thing you look for in any friend?

How do your online friends help you navigate your cancer maze?

Have you met any of your online friends and if so, what was that like?

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Are online friendships real? #friends #onlinecommunity #cancersupport #friendship #socialmedia

Thank you for reading!

Loretta Rederscheid

Wednesday 4th of May 2022

What a hard question! The experiences my cancer diagnosis afforded me resulted in a true personal education. The reflective state I found myself in uncovered revelations within my personality that I may not have explored without my cancer diagnosis. Yet, I could have certainly lived without the severe bone pain from chemo and the lovely side effects I endure daily. Very tough call but I would say no, I would not reverse what’s happened to me.

Nancy

Wednesday 4th of May 2022

Loretta, For me it's not a hard question at all. I would definitely reverse things. I appreciate your honest response, though it's the opposite of mine. Thank you for sharing it.

Loretta Rederscheid

Wednesday 4th of May 2022

@Nancyspoint.com I just realized I posted a comment regarding your 12-year cancer free article on your Are On-line Friendships real thread. Sorry!

I think online friendships can be more real than in-person ones. Cancer haves are quick to connect and share. I treasure the dialogues I have with online friends. Especially with you, Nancy! There’s so much we can learn from each other!

Lisa DeFerrari

Thursday 21st of April 2022

Before I started blogging I would never have imagined making friends that I only connect with online. But it now seems natural in this context and that is actually pretty amazing. I agree about the hard part too - it's always so difficult to process the losses.

Nancy

Friday 22nd of April 2022

Lisa, I never would've imagined making friends online before I started blogging either. Since I've been blogging for a while now, I've made quite a few special connections, including you. And yes, the hard part is when folks we've come to care about die.

Donna Funkhouser

Wednesday 20th of April 2022

Why yes, Nancy, I know 100% that online friendships are real! I don't know how I would have survived the last 5 years without online friends like you and many others. I'm so grateful.

Nancy

Thursday 21st of April 2022

Donna, There's no doubt in my mind either that online friendships are real and very helpful. I'm glad to count you as one of mine. Grateful here as well. Thank you for chiming in!

Linda C Boberg

Wednesday 20th of April 2022

I agree that online friendships can be wonderful (thank you for yours), but I am always a bit leery when I enter one. I have recently become friendlier with someone who asked me what my illness was. I responded by saying, "You tell me your woes and I'll tell you mine" since she was always apologizing to her base for not being able to finish something due to bad health. That's all it took! She needed to vent and I always am more than willing to vent (as you know). So, yes, they can be great sources of happiness.

Nancy

Thursday 21st of April 2022

Linda, I'm glad you have friends you can vent with. Lord knows we all need to vent now and then! I count you as one I can vent with - also, as you know! Any sort of friend can be a great source of happiness. For someone like me who spends a lot of time online and for other reasons, too, online friendships work great. Is it weird to say I prefer them? Thanks for being one of mine and thanks for commenting.

Abigail Johnston

Wednesday 20th of April 2022

I totally agree. Some of the people I find myself the closest to are ones that I’ve either never met in person or perhaps met once. It’s an adjustment since this way of developing friends wasn’t key for me before cancer but just another thing that has changed irrevocably.

Nancy

Thursday 21st of April 2022

Abigail, Yes, cancer has changed how many of us form and maintain friendships these days. Even more so for folks like you dealing with mbc. Love my online friends, including you. Thank you for taking time to comment.

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