As I drove to the She Speaks conference a few weeks ago, I tried to explain the nature of blog friendships to my Mom.
Between reading others' blogs and them reading mine, blog friends achieve a depth and honesty that is not always present in the acquaintances and friendships we have in real life. My deepest, truest self is on display in this space. Things I might not share with people right away, I feel free to process and share here, from the serious to the zany. My blog friends are the same way.
It's like we fast forward a few paces in the normal development of friendship. When you add Twitter and email into the mix, we continue to get to know each other on another level.
That's why I can say that some of my blog friends are indeed dear, close friends. It's only made better when we spend time together face to face. (This has truly been my experience. I haven't met anyone and regretted it or found they were different from their virtual self.)
I met my first blog friend last fall. I'd followed Trish's blog in the year before I moved to Nashville. We exchanged a few emails, as she gave me great suggestions on places to go and see. Meeting was the next logical step and now we hang out every couple of months.
Blog comments, Twitter, Facebook, emails, phone calls. They're all ways of connecting. Oh, and weeding out the crazies. (That's a given, right? Safety first!)
I've spent time building a relationship with everyone whom I've met face to face. After awhile, it doesn't feel so much a virtual friendship as a real one.
As I drove back home from She Speaks, the disadvantage of virtual friendship was clear: long gaps in between the next time spent together. But just as I keep up with friends from high school and college who are now spread across the country, so I put effort into maintaining and strengthening my blog friendships.
Could I have ever imagined that one day I'd look forward to meeting someone living in Texas or Oklahoma that I only knew online?
No, but my life is richer for it.
(This post was already written when I stumbled across this interesting post from Kenny Silva on defining connection. The progression of levels is spot on and generally a good guideline if you're wondering whether your virtual friendship is "real life ready.")
Agree or disagree? How do you decide when or whether to meet a blog friend?