- One of four blessing this holiday season –
Today is the 3rd of 4 small articles discussing the blessings we share as members of TUDiabetes.org . The first two blessings I discussed were community and bounty. Today the blessing I will discuss is friendship. Now I am sure some folks will be reading this and have a misunderstanding of how a person can have friends in an electronic environment. I admit it does sound silly. How can you be friends with someone you never met, will never likely meet and who you have never spoken with? Yet we see it every day in our community and what we see lets us know that true and lasting friendship is one of the four major blessings we have as members of this online community.
Per usual and to honor my dissertation adviser who said “you must always define of what you are speaking of”, I will start with the definition of friendship. According to Dictionary.com:
“1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: friends of the Boston Symphony.
3. a member of the same nation, party, etc.” ("Friend," 2013) and
“1. the state of being a friend; association as friends: to value a person's friendship” ("Friendship," 2013),
In this case I believe there is a better definition for online friendships. The statement “personal common ground defines friends versus strangers” (Clark as quoted by Jacobson, 2007, p. 361) is a good description of the nature of friendship in our online community. Really isn’t that what binds us together? We have shared common ground and that in and of itself is the reason we are a community. Of course our shared experience is one none of us wants. Let’s face it when we join this community our sincere hope is that someday we can leave it. Either by Technology, or a Miracle, something to get us kicked out. I for one look forward to the day when I may no longer be a diabetic and I can start the TUDiabetes.org auxiliary organization. But I am not holding my breath. So I expect the shared experience will continue.
Friendship is also is dependent on shared space. 50 years ago people almost always met and made friendships in churches and bars. 30 years ago we broadened that to include sporting events, schools, and professional, trade and labor organizations. Today we have even broader forums to form friendships. Of course we continue to use past methods but we also use online social networks. A social network is “a dynamic and multimodal platform which enables discussions, sharing of multimedia content, organization of events, etc., amongst members with common interests, such as school, friendship, work, and hobbies” (Grabner-Kräuter, 2009, p. 507). Obviously not all social networks are hospitable; at least not as most of us would define it.
There is no better example of the hospitality and friendship generated on this web site than the responses that those of us receive when we welcome new members. Here are some recent examples:
At 8:15am on December 18, 2013, nicndismom said… Thank you for the kind welcome:)
At 8:42am on December 17, 2013, boulderbird said…THanks so much for the birthday wishes: you've given me a smile.
At 3:07am on December 9, 2013, Deb Snow said…Thank you for your welcome. Bless you
At 11:55pm on December 8, 2013, WendyB76 said…Thank you for the warm Welcome
At 12:31pm on December 4, 2013, Eyleen said…Thank you!~ I feel so welcomed!
After reading these and if you want to read more look at any greeters home page. There are dozens of these, and in the end they and they alone are proof enough of the friendship we are blessed with. Yes friendship is a blessing and a blessing we all share as members of this site.,
Friend. (2013). Retrieved from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/friend?s=t
Friendship. (2013). Retrieved from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/friendship?s=t
Grabner-Kräuter, S. (2009). Web 2.0 Social Networks: The Role of Trust. Journal of Business Ethics, 90, 505-522. doi: 10.2307/40863684
Jacobson, D. (2007). Interpreting Instant Messaging: Context and Meaning in Computer-Mediated Communication. Journal of Anthropological Research, 63(3), 359-381. doi: 10.2307/20479429