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Techonology can change friendships

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Relying on the Internet for communicating with your friends isn’t healthy, our columnist says.





It’s a testimony to the technological age in which we live that we can categorize our friends by how we communicate with them.





Some are so close, and so dear, that seeing them in person is the only way we really feel that we’ve connected. Many are familiar enough that you wish to hear their voice, speaking to them directly on the telephone. While others, believe it or not, are those with whom you correspond through old-fashioned letter writing.





And then there are those people with whom the only contact you have is through the Internet. Perhaps it’s through necessity, such as work colleagues who live in another city or country; or friends who live in another time zone, making telephone communication tricky.





And those with family and friends who live “back home” are ever grateful for the inexpensive means of constant communication the Internet has to offer.





Through e-mail, we can share stories, ask questions, and stay connected — and choose the level of intimacy in which we feel most comfortable.





However, some people come to rely wholly on the Internet for all of their communication, which, in my opinion, can become unhealthy. If the only way you can open up, revealing yourself to others, is through a computer, than you’re always hiding behind a thick veil of technology.





Unless it’s absolutely impossible, due to distance, Internet “friends” need to meet in person in order to test the reality of their relationship.





When good friends get together, whether for an hour or a weekend, and the conversation flows to the point that no one topic ever really gets finished, that’s when you know that your friendship is deep. And those are usually the people you don’t e-mail when you have something to say.





The only wrench in my theory is the extensive usage of the BlackBerry — that personal device that acts as cellphone and mini computer. People who have one seem to forget that not everybody else has one, and they become addicted to the immediate gratification of the quick response from those who do.





Here’s an example: I opened my e-mail — on my desktop computer — after lunch the other day to find this message, “Hey! Wanna meet for coffee at 2?” Knowing I had some free time, I replied excitedly, “Great! Where?”





To which my BlackBerry-using friend replied, “I sent you that e-mail three days ago! No can do today. Sorry.”





Relationships take two people who understand how to communicate with one another. In other words, if one person is online while the other one’s on the phone, it’ll be hard for them to connect.



relating@metronews.ca

 
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