One of the great debates concerning social media is whether online relationships are real relationships.
Some argue that online relationships are not “real” because they are superficial. But the reality is our relationships – both offline and online – span the continuum of depth/superficiality.
As social media becomes more integrated in our lives and our culutre, the lines between real and virtual are blurring. It’s becoming apparent that social media is just another communication tool.
Rev. David Hansen shared a great example of that earlier this week on his blog:
Last week, an adolescent in my community was severely injured. We offered prayers in our community, and ministry in our community. I also posted about it on Facebook, inviting prayers for her healing and recovery. Messages of prayer and support and love flooded in from all over the world. From Lutherans and Catholics and Baptists and Pagans and Agnostics. And they have continued.
And not just messages typed on keyboards. Phone calls. Text messages. Real prayers, offered up by real caring and loving people. A congregation in Florida (none of whom know me in “real life”) who spent the entire Sunday School hour crafting handmade cards to let this young girl know that she is not alone and she is loved. All thanks to social media.
Nobody is debating whether it’s “superficial” to pray or send hand made cards to someone you’ve never met in person. So, why single out social media for this criticism?
What do you think? Are online relationships and interactions “real?”