Online vs IRL

I was thinking today about how the internet has changed our relationships with our friends. Today we found out that another of our favorite baristas (she’s the 5th) will be leaving our Starbucks. I had this odd panic, that these people are leaving and we’ll never see them again. Which lead me to examine the dichotomy…

Sometimes it seems as though our online friends (those who we communicate with primarily online) are closer to us than our IRL (in real life) friends. Just to clarify, those categories are not mutually exclusive. Online friends may live just down the street and we see them once a week at the market and IRL friends may live across the country and we talk to them on the phone.

What I am finding more and more, is that those of my friends and family that do not have an online presence (email, IM, blog, photo album, etc.) I know less about. I talk to them less, and I am not as involved what is going on in their life. Now granted, maybe they want it that way and that is fine with me. I understand wanting to be a private person. But the truth of it is that you and I will probably not be as close of friends if I have to call or visit to find out what is going on with you.

In this ever-increasingly hectic world, technology allows me communicate with 20 of my closest friends each and everyday, without requiring so much of my time that it hampers my productivity. This is key. It would take 2-3 weeks for me to share a meal with all of these folks. I do love spending time with people and sharing those interactions that can only happen in person, but we all have lives to lead and I don’t want to have to say, “No more friends. I just don’t have the time for them all.”

Just another paradigm shift.