My friend T lives in the Seattle area. He plays Magic and is quick to respond to bullshit with biting wit. Another friend, H, loves her whiskey, owns many guns, and has an adorable Lab named Annie Lou.
These two people are my friends. I’ve also never met them face-to-face, in what many would consider the “real world”. I know them–and have since I was in high school–thanks to Kingdom of Loathing, where we’re members of the same in-game social “clan”. We’ve never drunk beer together, sure, but I’ve typed a lot of words into clan chat over the years, and they have too. We know each other better than I know many in-person acquaintances.
Using the word “friend” to describe relationships that have never seen so much as a handshake might seem strange. Some might scoff at it, saying that my generation of technology-addicted Millennials is just fooling itself, and that we’re living in an increasingly isolated, asocial world. These criticisms are part of an even broader argument: that the internet and “real life” are two non-overlapping spheres, and that activities in the former are somehow less valuable, less meaningful, or less real than activities in the latter.
You know what? It’s almost 2015. It’s time to accept that the internet is real life.