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Online Friendships

Online Friendships

I am almost 25 years of age. I should be out with friends doing the stupid stuff people my age do. Or maybe I should be in school living the life of a dedicated student full of aspirations? I don’t know? But what I do know is I should be being social. Unfortunately that is not the hand I was dealt and since my diagnosis the number of friends I have has dwindled to… well, not many.

But… that is not true because what I actually mean is the number of friends I know in person has decreased but I have developed many friends online, primarily through Facebook. It may not be the same as having someone to sit and talk with or having someone to hug when you’re having a tough time but they are still friends. A friendship is nothing more than a connection you have made with another human being who makes you feel good in one way or another.

With that being said, I have never met some of my best friends. I have built friendships online with people who I later met in person from people 10 miles away in this very town to people over 6,000 miles away in a different country. You see many of the people I grew up with, went to school with, or worked with slowly faded away from my life after I was diagnosed. I figure the things I have been going through are too “deep” for them to relate to. Kind of hard to complain about not getting tickets to some concert when I am complaining that I am in a wheelchair and can not move my hand. I guess I can understand; no one wants to hear about stuff that bums you out when you’re trying to get pumped up for some party and after you have told someone you can’t hang out because you are tired or simply incapable of doing whatever it is they want to do, they stop asking.


It was really hard to both lose friends who run away and to lose friends you had to push away because they were not promoting a healthy relationship. So you turn to your online friends. The many people on social media websites who have been through the same things; who understand. They know how to comfort you because they know what it is like to not receive that comfort. Soon you stop caring that people in your life are disappearing because you have found a community that accepts you for who you are and understands you when no one else does.

Some of my best friends are online; I have never met them in person and I may never but if they were to show up at my door at 4am out of the blue I would let them in and do whatever it is they need because when I was down? When I was broken apart and upset without any idea of what to do? They were there for me and they gave me the strength to push on. Strength. All through words. Imagine what they do if I could stand before them, look them in the eye, and hug them? Such a simple gesture can mean so much and even just to shake the hand of some of the people I know online would mean so much. Both ways; It would be great to receive a hug and sometimes I wish nothing more than to be able to hug someone; hold them and just make them feel like everything will be OK because after a while, saying it over and over, it doesn’t feel like enough. Or maybe it does to them but it is only me who wishes I could do more?

I am good with words. I always have been but sometimes I just don’t know what to say. In any other situation I would just lean in and embrace that person but I can’t do that for someone thousands of miles away and it breaks my heart. I don’t care what anyone has to say, having an online friend, a true friend, can be better than knowing someone in person. It’s all about the connection you share.

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Comments

  • Jess
    5 years ago

    Hi, enjoyed your story and I CA completely relate. My boyfriend has been talking to me for years to join a support group. That might work for some people but my support group is right at my fingertips. That is all I need and I don’t even have to leave my house. He thinks that isolates me from the world but I have trouble walking and getting out is a HUGE endeavor so I have to pick my opportunities. Yes, I have a few friends that I see, but I like it this way to talk about my MS issues.

  • Matt Allen G author
    5 years ago

    I fear I am isolating myself sometimes but then I see some of the people “out there” and though I do value the friendships I have IN PERSON with people I have realised and idea, a thought? Sometimes someone on the other side of the planet can share one with ME that will change my day, my life. THAT is what matters, it’s that connection you create.

  • itasara
    5 years ago

    Enjoyed your blog! I am not in a w/c and am able to get out, but I think the computer (and even the bad couple winters we have had) and getting older (?old) and more unmotivated in general have contributed to a diminished social life and circle of friends. I spend a fair amount of time on FB and other sites keeping in touch with real and “virtual” people and relatives and answering articles like this, and exploring the world from my chair! I do belong to a couple singing groups and always happy to get out and meet with people vis a vis. But I’m just not as motivated as I used to be. So I too have online friendships that I don’t know. There really is nothing wrong with that. No it isn’t quite the same thing but still it is a relationship. I have lost some friends because of this, but that is more my fault than anything, I think. Those who are not on FB I tend not to be in touch as much. My mom used to say when I was young you can have many friends and acquaintances but your closest relationships you can count on one hand, and I think she was correct on that one.

  • Matt Allen G author
    5 years ago

    You are right, I am not in a wheelchair either but getting “out” just is not as easy anymore so most of my social life is online, What ever the reason may be, online friendships can be very important.

  • alchemie
    5 years ago

    Hey Matt, thanks for sharing! I’ve been online since 1996. I’ve met over a hundred people from the internet. In fact, I met my husband from the internet! My suggestion for people who might want to do this, find an internet group with subjects that you really like. After awhile, you’ll find out for sure if others within the group have actually met one another or not. In my case, it was actually horror movies or the gothic subculture. Sometimes there would be meet-n-greets, or horror movie conventions/festivals. It can be a lot of fun! But make sure you check things out before you do it, so that you’re safe and stuff.

  • Matt Allen G author
    5 years ago

    That is awesome! Yeah the safety bit is kind of a concern of mine (when talking to other people about it that is).

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