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How Are Your Online Relationships Different From Your Offline Relationships?

one2one-sm.gifBoy do Liz and I have an interesting conversation going on about relationships.

My last question to her, if you recall, was how has your blog changed the way you think about relationships? She titled her response: I Knew Everything about Relationships Until an Audience Came. You’ve gotta take a read. Here’s an excerpt:

I don't think about relationships anymore. I see the people I have relationships with and the incredible differences they make. I see the changes we make in each other.

Of course, she passed a great question right back to me when she asked:

Do you see a difference between your online relationships and those offline — beyond the obvious physical differences?

Without a doubt!

One of the most interesting differences, for me, has been how easy it’s been to get to know absolute strangers. Just from blogging I now have a number of people I’d call friends. People like Chris, Wendy, Char, Lorelle, Ed, Ben, Mike and Mike, David and David, Gayla, Phil, Kammie, Easton and Tony, to name a few. Most I’ve met in person. And all I stay in touch with by phone or email on some sort of regular basis (sorry I’ve been out of touch a bit lately, David).

What’s really neat is that they each live in different places. And I didn’t know any of them before I was blogging. Same with Liz…one day, some months back, I got an email message saying, “I’m calling you at 2pm today.” Then she did, we talked and we’ve not stopped since.

I’m pretty certain that without my blog I’d not know any of these folks. Yet we each have things in common that bring us together. Each one of them (and many of you) have enriched my life in different ways. I feel fortunate to call them all friends.

And that’s where the internet, and the blogosphere specifically, continues to amaze me. Through my blog, I’ve met such good, caring, interesting and quality people. We may live thousands of miles apart, but we’re neighbors in the blogosphere.

So what brings us together in the first place? In each relationship it’s a little different. Yet a common denominator is that we have similar interests. Those interests bring us together. It gives us a ground to share what we know and what we love with each other. Combine that with wanting to meet interesting people and you have a formula for building relationships that extend beyond the blogosphere.

Now that’s not to say that the people I’ve met blogging have replaced friends I’ve already had. Not at all. Rather, it’s just expanded my circle of friends. And that circle keeps getting larger.

And you know, you’re a part of that circle as well. Yeah, I do mean you. Without you, I’m not sure I’d still be blogging. I’m blogging to start conversations and build relationships. So without you, without your interest, your readership, your comments, your sticking around to get to know me, none of this would be possible. Okay, maybe it’s be possible, but it sure wouldn’t be worthwhile. So thank you.

So please, drop me a line some time and introduce yourself. And we’ve already met, don’t be a stranger. I love hearing from you.

And there you have the difference, as I see it, between online and offline relationships. How could I invite a bunch of people I don’t know to start a relationship without my blog? And then give you the time to respond whenever and however you like…if at all?

Of course you should know by now that my goal is to turn my online relationships into offline relationships. And that happens organically. So I have to ask you, how have your online relationships differed from your offline ones? Let’s talk about it in the comment box.

You know Liz and I keep going back-and-forth in this one2one conversation. Remember, you can join in the conversation on either of our blogs as well. So when I ask Liz this question, I’m also asking you:

What’s the oddest beginning to a relationship that you’ve developed through your blog?

You can look for Liz’s response on Thursday. But we don’t have to wait til then to talk about it…

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Comments

  1. Virtual relationships are just as easy to end. IMAO

    People come and go quickly. It may be the nature of the blogosphere.

  2. I had blogged on a social network about the vanishing breed of stenographers/secretaries and two persistent responders were able to trace me and contact me by phone to share their experiences with me. I was blogging only to let off some steam to highlight how now one has to do everything himself unlike in the old days when one had a secretary to take care of mundane matters.

  3. digitalnomad,
    Sure, and some stick around to become friends.

    home recording,
    While technology has made it possible to do much more on our own, people who are highly successful often delegate tasks to a support staff of some sort. Really, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. There’s just too much work to do for most people. Getting an assistant can make all the difference in your business’ success.

  4. I’ve always been a letter writer at heart, but most of my friends weren’t. So blogging and the internet is a Godsend for me. I get lonely when I don’t write, and interacting with others is a lot more satisfying than just journal writing.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy face-to-face interactions with friends. It just means they’re a different kind of exchange.

  5. I find it fascinating to be able to connect with so many people with so much knowledge and with different perspectives, from all over the world, via blogging.

    Writing anything in general has a way of bringing our personalities to the fore front even when we want to keep some of our identities ‘hidden’, may it be through our opinions or our style of expressing something, or our reactions to something…which makes the process of developing these relationships into friendships easier..

    oh BTW, Hi Dawud, I am pearl from fresh-perspectives.net :) my first time commenting here, although I have read your blog before! I guest posted on Ilker Yoldas’s thinking blog sometime ago on a similar topic although yours is expressed in a much better way :)

    Meeting Your Virtual Friends

  6. Jean,
    Sounds like the web is serving you.

    pearl,
    Hey pearl, nice to meet you. I just read your post at The Thinking Blog and thought it was well done. So please, stop by any time and join the conversation.

    BTW, have you noticed how diverse the people you meet on your blog are? It’s really amazing.

  7. There’s one thing that’s the same on both online and offline relationships… they are both fed by attention.

    If you want a relationship to grow, you have to give it some of your attention. If you take attention you have been giving to a relationship away, that relationship fades.

    Attention is the universal currency for showing how important someone (or something) is to you.

    I wrote an article about that when it comes to significant others, but you can fairly easily use the same ideas for any other relationship.

    The Truth Behind Falling – And Being – In Love

  8. It’s amazing how many friends I have made through my blog in a very short time.

    The web 2.0 is all about socializing, and blogs are what make the social web truly fascinating :)

  9. thank you so much Dawud!

    Diverse, yes :) I love the fact that most of us are non-judgmental when it comes to exchanging views and gaining readership… ‘cuz offline we think many times in approaching people we don’t know…

    look at all the smilies we include in our writing (i do anyway) and I bet none of us smiles this much at strangers off line!

  10. I find it easier to open up online. Well, perhaps not easier, but it happens faster. There is a certain anonimity bubble that makes me feel a little safer because people don’t really know who I am. I’m not saying I lie or embellish about who I am, not at all! But then, there is just something about knowing someone in person that makes the connection stronger. And it’s great to finally meet someone in person who you’ve been talking to online a lot.

    The part I like the most about online relationships is that I can be friends with people from Japan to the UK, Australia to Canada, and even some people here in the US that used to practially live in my backyard (that would be Brian Gardner! How cool is that?). Social media facinates me and I’m looking forward to where we’ll be in 10 years (which is practically a century in tech terms!)

  11. I must say that I completely agree. The people I know online, I’ve come to know for years and am extremely glad to call each and every single one of them my friend. You get to know people in a different way online. It’s almost as if people are more open, and free to who they really are. I’m not exactly sure why this is, but it is the truth. You open up a lot quicker and when all is said and done…you feel comfortable with the person. Like you’ve known them your whole life. The online relationships that a person builds with people is something that is something you can’t really experience face-to-face. Like someone you met at work or something. It’s just different, but it’s nice!

  12. Jason,
    So true. What’s worked for you in keeping in touch with people you’ve met online?

    Mohsin,
    I’ve had the same experience. What do you think the near future of social media will look like?

    pearl,
    I’m with you. It’s amazing how lovely and kind the people I’ve met blogging are. Versus the folks I see everyday at the grocery store. Don’t you think it’s just amazing that we can make such great friendships with strangers?

    LaurenMarie,
    I understand. The computer can hide some of our imperfections – at least for a little while – letting people get to know us before all the gunk comes out.

    And I, too, am amazed by this whole social media phenomenon. Friendships across the world…impossible just a few years ago.

    Hope,
    I think people are more open. I think we all share some commonalities that bring us together. And, similar temperament and morality, maybe. What do you think is the reason it’s easier?

  13. I think I did write a response here Dawud and not seeing it here now makes me wonder if I was sleep walking :)

  14. Joanna Young says:

    I have ‘met’ some amazing people on-line, some of whom have very quickly became friends, mentors, coaches. I’m constantly astonished by and grateful for this.

    I have ‘conversations’ on my own and other people’s blogs with a more diverse range of people than I do in real life and I feel this has been really good for me, challenging some of my preconceptions about people and opening my mind to the possibilities of, like you say, a much more varied and diverse kind of conversation.

    It’s been fun listening in to this on-line conversation between you and Liz. I can’t wait to see her answer to this last question!

    Joanna

  15. Hi Dawud,

    I hope all’s well with you and the family (and the kitchen).

    You make a good point about how easy it is to get to know people online, especially those with blogs. There’s so much info on my blog, about me, as a person, that if you were to spend a short amount of time looking around, reading my words etc., you’d know something about my character.

    Offline relationships take longer, because with every new friend you’re starting from scratch – there’s no background info or ‘about’ page that you can get a glimpse of.

    Both types of friendships mean a lot to me, although there’s no substitute for face-to-face. Hopefully one day we’ll cross paths.

  16. Although you can have many friends offline, it becomes much easier to find someone with similar interests online. Before the whole blogging and community scene, I had a difficult time finding someone who shared the same passion and excitement over certain things with me. Although offline friends are still irreplaceable, online friends tend to share more common interests.

  17. pearl,
    I found it.

    David,
    Thanks. Things are well (and the kitchen is nearly complete).

    I agree that online relationships often go deeper, faster. I wonder if part of the reason is because we have less inhibitions with people through the computer. Thoughts?

    Jen,
    I agree. I think like people gather together. And those things in common offer immediate kindling for relationships to grow.

    Joanna,
    It should be up tomorrow…I can’t wait either. Think I’ll call her…

  18. I like the comment about letter writing, i never thought of it before but the art of writing letters is so lost. I treasured those who took a moment to write back – they were kindred. I too was a letter writer

    with blogging and even online community so many more ” get” that taking a moment to read, peek, write back, comment opens up many more doors than ever before possible. It makes the writing part much more rewarding

    Letter writing was private – this medium is public – very visual and when someone is real in that realm I find it intoxicating

    it makes my hungry for more

    Mother Earth
    http://www.bestwellnessconsultant.com

  19. Phil Gerbyshak says:

    Online, bloggy, relationships often get deeper, faster, because of the ability to share in a real way. I’ve found that it’s often the little things that we don’t know about the person that really draw us in, not just the topics they write about. It’s why David Airey’s Face Behind the Blog Series was such a rousing success…Folks crave that personal touch that often takes a backseat to conversational topics on the blog.

    Thankfully, it’s possible to “take the blog off the blog” and meet folks in person, and then really get to know them. That way when you read their blog posts, you can hear them reading them, or better yet, see them saying them to you, like a one-on-one conversation.

    Offline, I find that things are more superficial, at least at first. It’s like the whole butt sniffing that dogs do. Gotta make sure the other person is somehow “worthy” of our attention. It takes longer to “get deep” but once you do, usually you’re in for the long haul.

  20. For me, offline relationship is always more real, no fake involved. Everything the person says or do I can judge it by my eyes. So, online relationship is not as deep as offline relationship.

  21. Mother Earth,
    I couldn’t agree more. It seems to me that we’re all searching for real, honest relationships. And that’s what we’re finding in the blogosphere.

    Phil,
    I loved David’s Face Behind the Blog Series. It let me get to know a number of bloggers better. Like I had no idea that Randa Clay sang opera. What an amazing thing to learn about someone.

    And it’s fun to take the blog relationships offline. I’ve met so many amazing people – you included, my friend. And thank God neither of us did any butt sniffing…

    Valik,
    I certainly think that’s true in a number of cases. Yet, at the same time, most of the bloggers I’ve gotten to know are exactly the people the portray themselves as on their blogs. Could just be the type of people I’m drawn too and who are drawn to me.

    Have you had instances where that’s not been the case?

  22. I am working with 2 clients right now who want to have me write ordinary website like ( not to imply that all websites are ordinary or anything! ) copy without getting too personal – in otherwords they want to maintain privacy.

    What I hear them saying strikes me as so ordinary and so clone-like or homogonized

    I find it very hard to keep what I love about who they are and the services they provide so sterile.

    If I am going to represent them in the way I do best I am going to write about them as a remarkable person making anyone who reads it WANT to do business with them

    none of that blah, blah blah or ” look good ” posturing type stuff

    blogger or not isn’t that how we distinquish ourselves in what it is we do ??

    Hi Phil!!!!

    Mother Earth
    http://www.bestwellnessconsultant.com

  23. A blog entry got me back in touch with my best friend from high school and early adulthood – we’d had a falling out and hadn’t spoken in many years. Read it and weep (tears of joy): “Repairing the Irreparable” at http://soulsurgery.blogspot.com/2007/08/repairing-irreparable.html

  24. Mother Earth,
    I know what you mean. Perhaps you want to remind them that people do business with people, not businesses and that it’s safe, and often helpful, to show a bit of your human side – even in a sterile, corporate environment. All-in-all, it’s about relationships. And if you don’t relate, you’ll get passed by.

    Carol,
    That’s sweet. Just found an old high school friend on Facebook myself. Scoble’s right, the social media is shrinking the globe.

  25. Showing the human side – I like that!

    Mother Earth
    http://www.bestwellnessconsultant.com

  26. I just saying my opinion, in the online relationships you can talk in that moment what ever you need to, so from my point of view is more efficient.

  27. I think online relationships, because of the fact that no geographical barriers exist and since there is no constraint imposed by distance, are so much more varied. They will be so much more varied than the relationships you can develop in your neighborhood, school, office, city etc.

  28. Mother Earth,
    Thanks. Being human is certainly something that binds us all together.

    Heroes,
    I certainly think it can be. But is there a point where one transcends the other?

    Living,
    Varied, sure. Yet still I’ve found commonality between myself and the people I’ve met through my blog. That’s the really exciting part; varied commonality.

  29. Dallas Bienes Raices says:

    I guess if it works for some people, why not do it, hey!!!a lot people find their other half on net.

  30. Dallas,
    True. I simply see the internet/blogosphere as a massive opportunity to build relationships. And, since my business has been built by building mutually beneficial relationships, all the better.

  31. When I became single with 2 really small kids, I went on a mom’s group somewhere. I liked one woman’s post so I emailed her directly and told her I was really in need of a penpal and was she interested. She said yes, she happened to be a military wife in Japan with some kid issues. We struck up a great friendship that could be active when we had time and quiet when we didnt.

    The other great one was that I asked a guy for business help when I saw on Yahoo personals that he was in internet marketing. 8 months later I ended up marrying him .. http://www.jimandjillforever.com ….

    Online or offline, relationships fill voids if you are open and they are open…

  32. Jill,
    These are great stories. I can only imagine the joy of finding your loved one this way. How amazing. Thanks so much for adding your thoughts.

  33. I met my wife on Net and we carried this relationship to real-life and we are married at the moment.Offline relationships can be a dream of you but one day you see it is true or not.

  34. usa,
    What a lovely story. I didn’t meet my wife online, yet we did marry in three weeks from our meeting each other.

  35. I am 55 and met my husband online 10 years. It was love at first online! We are very happily married. A great way to meet someone.

  36. Online and offline relationships can be boh positive and negative, depending on how you approach and if you are observing objectively or emotionally…..

  37. Bill Urell says:

    My main blog has allowed me to communicate on a worldwide basis. I am an addiction counselor and the internet has extended the reach well beyond the walls of my office.

    Bill

  38. The internet has really helped in the region of merging cultures and people who would normally never have a chance to meet.

  39. there is big difference between between my online friends and the ones i have personally…but i found out that there are things i can say or tell my online friends that i dont talk about with my personal friends.

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