The Internet and friendship

Ben // 5/26/2008

I propose that the Internet is fundamentally about friendship: friendship of use, friendship of pleasure, and friendship of the good. We can more-or-less divide the Internet into those categories.

The friendship of use:

Wikipedia — more than 75,000 people (according to the site) collaborate to make the most comprehensive encyclopedia ever. The Internet connects them and then connects us to their work. There is a real kind of friendship going on here, one in which people come together to share factual knowledge.

The friendship of pleasure:

Facebook — the 7th most popular website in the world is a "social utility that connects people with friends and others." It is good for keeping in touch and collecting friends. For instance, I have over 90 friends on Facebook... me?

The friendship of the good:

Where can we find this kind of friendship on the Internet? According to Aristotle this friendship enjoys all the sweetness of the other forms. Friendships based on utility ("what can I get out of the other person?") and/or pleasure ("I enjoy his wit", "She is pleasant to be with," etc.)1 are encompassed by a greater friendship, a friendship based on the virtue of "goodness" of those involved. "It is natural that such friendships should be infrequent; for such men are rare," says Aristotle.

Such websites are also rare, leading to a question: Are we even looking in the right place? According to the definition of the good friendship given here, such friendship is based on the way two individuals live their lives, not on how they express their friendship on a website for instance. There are good friendships that exist on the Internet, but a website itself cannot create this kind of friendship out of thin air. It may, I think, do two things to help though. It can inspire "virtue," and it can act as a meeting place.

-Ben

Comments

I've made friends over the

I've made friends over the internet but the relationship is always fragile, there is no constant contact to keep it going.

And I only have eight friends on Facebook because everyone else is on myspace =\

Tamerah | Mon, 05/26/2008

I know what you mean

I know what you mean Tamerah. After I wrote this I searched for "Internet friends" and found that it has actually become a term people use to define a kind of friendship with its own kind of positives and negatives. The main thing I am realizing is that the best friendships rely on what we and the friend bring to it. Whether in person or on the net, it still depends on who we "are."

Ben | Wed, 05/28/2008

Maybe I'm just a geek, or

Maybe I'm just a geek, or something, but I have a lot of really GOOD internet friends. Two of them I've even spoken to over the phone (yes, I'm still alive - haha).



I appreciated this post, Ben. It made me feel less geeky about using the internet for socialization purposes.

Delaney | Sat, 05/31/2008

“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” - G.K. Chesterton

Were you surprised by

Delaney, were you surprised by anything when you spoke with them on the phone?

It does seem that there is a lot of hoopla around the internet. It is amazing, but the rules of life still apply. To quote Gertrude Stein, a rose is a rose is a rose (or: a friendship is a friendship is a friendship).

Ben | Sun, 06/01/2008

Hm... I know one friend was

Hm... I know one friend was suprised that my voice was lower and "less hyper" than she thought it would be. ;) Since I had usually talked to these girls over IM and whatnot, it felt really different not to have the time to think about what I would say, as I do when I type, and very different not to have emoticons! I wasn't really surprised, I suppose, but it was different.

Delaney | Mon, 06/02/2008

“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” - G.K. Chesterton

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