I grew up right smack dab in the middle of an online revolution. In the last three decades, I’ve seen a paradigm shift in how people approach relationships, particularly with people we meet online. Be it through blogs (like this one), facebook, twitter, or any of the countless other online forums, more and more people are “meeting” over the internet than ever before. I met my husband online, and online dating is quickly becoming more socially acceptable than it was even ten years ago. Whether or not this is a good thing remains to be determined, but I’m liking the change so far. I’ve been able to meet dozens of people I never would have met if not for the internet. My life is better for having met those people, and I am eternally grateful for their influence in my life.
One of the biggest benefits to having internet friends all over the world is the different perspectives I get on different issues of the day. Instead of being limited to my somewhat demographically similar friends and family, I have a whole host of people of different ages, socioeconomic class, gender, and race at my fingertips. A few clicks on the keyboard and I can ask hundreds of people for their opinion on any given subject. I believe that this exposure to different types of people has made our society more understanding as a whole. I’ve definitely experienced this on my own. While no one likes to be told they see something in a negative light, those discussions give us the opportunity to change our behaviors for the better.
The biggest benefit to online relationships for me though has been the incredible amount of support I’ve gotten from my friends online. While I’m not lacking for support in my real life friends and family, it is always comforting to be able to talk to someone half a world away that doesn’t really have a stake in how one problem or another turns out. They are about as unbiased as you can get, and I absolutely cherish the fact that I can get an unbiased opinion from them, even if I don’t like what I’m hearing all the time.
All that to say, thank you to all the people who choose to have me in their life, no matter how close or far away we are from each other. I value your input, your opinions, and you as a person, because you do the same for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.