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You Can't Share a Hug On-line. Wednesday April 8, 2015

Some people say that on-line friends aren't real friends at all.

I would disagree. In my experience, on-line friends are just the same as friends you actually see face to face. They pop into your life to say hello. They notice if you're not around for a few days and check up on you. They send sympathy when you're hurt or ill or upset. Oh, and they can get upset with you (and you with them) just like the friends you can see face to face.

"But you can pretend to be anyone you like on-line," say the detractors; "How do you know this person is what they're purporting to be?"

Good point. On-line friends may not come with the recommendation "Oh, this is Jack; I went to school with his sister," but I think the majority of my on-line friends came with some kind of connection. In some cases I've been reading their books for years and then find that the authors of these books are as warm and welcoming as the characters they write. In one case it was "This is Brendon; he's a great guy who's been through a tough time. Be a friend and give him some encouragement please." And on-line friendships need time to develop just as physical ones do. It's hard to pretend to be someone you're not over an extended period of time.

And, yes, sometimes it's not enough.

An on-line friend who knew I have been walking my black dog rather more miles than usual posted on Facebook "How can I help?" (This is an incredibly powerful question by the way: I'd recommend using that exact phrasing if you want to help anyone.)

Because I knew this person lived within reach I simply said "Have lunch with me."

So we met up in London on Saturday. And yes, it might have been awkward. We might have discovered after half an hour that we bored each other senseless. But we didn't. It was a magical time of connecting on a deeper level than we'd been able to on-line, of talking at a speed utterly impossible through a keyboard, of transforming an intellectual friendship to an emotionally kinaesthetic intimacy.

Because, in the end, you can't meet someone's eyes and share a smile on-line; you can't bump shoulders companionably. You can't share a hug on-line.

On-line friends are valuable and can contribute enormously to our lives; they can be an essential part of our support network. But we can't live the whole of our lives on-line. We really need those hugs. If you can, make sure you have a ready supply on hand for when you need them.

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 6:36am

Mary, you are amazing. I can't even manage friends in real life, let alone on line! No matter how much I try and be a supportive friend, I don't think I've ever had anyone check up on me if I've not been around, or ask how they can help! I have huge admiration for you!

Hopeful One Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 7:32am

Hi Anonymous 6.36 -Not meant to be a criticism in any shape or form but it is worth reminding ourselves this observation by the famous Canadian philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson The only way to have a friend is to be one."

Hopeful One Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 7:42am

Hi Mary- a great post so true. It is said that anything between 40 to 60% of our human contact is non verbal communication. I place hugs or any endearing gesture like simply placing a light hand on someone's shoulder when they are in distress in this category( I am sure there are many many more).This valuable form of communication is denied to us when online.That gestures value to the other person is far more than any words we may say.And on line losses can feel real even though we never met that person as I experienced my first cyber dumping recently! Better news to report though I now have a new cyber squeeze for was it not you who said"there are plenty more fish in the sea" or words to that effect when I mentioned it in one of my posts.?.How perceptive of you !

Anonymous Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 8:13am

Feels fairly critical from where I'm sat ..... I think I did say I try very hard to be a supportive friend?

Adam Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 8:14am

Thank you Mary, I really enjoy and look forward to your posts.

Anonymous Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 9:22am

But you can be warm and endearing online, Mary, which you always are. Very well put, I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments. Thanks once again. You add sunshine to our online lives. :-)

Hopeful One Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 10:26am

Hi Anonymous 8.13 - ouch ! Didn't mean to . Sorry.

Mary Hill Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 10:39am

Hi Anonymous. Yup "managing" friends is tricky. I seem to spend most of my life apologising for letting them down, feeling bad for not being there for them when they need me, for hurting them - and yet I've been lucky enough to make and keep some incredibly loyal, loving, supportive friends. If I knew where they came from I'd tell you. If you're female and read romantic fiction I do have a ready source, so let me know and I'll point you to it.

houseofcolourhuntingdon Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 10:47am

The very best of luck to you and your new cyber-squeeze! I think you can build very solid relationships with just words so long as you are completely honest with them. Many years ago I developed a relationship with a young(ish) man through letters (this was pre-FaceBook and email). When the relationship floundered he was decent enough to say that he thought it was because although I had been completely honest in my letters, he had not been and so that relationship had not been built on solid foundations. Warts and all, my lovely: warts and all.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 10:48am

Oh, and it's me above - just with a different account!

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 10:49am

Thank you Adam. It means so much when I know people actually a) read and b) enjoy/get something useful out of my posts.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 10:50am

Blushes, hangs head, shuffles feet uneasily. Mumbles "thank you" and runs away quickly....

Anonymous Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 1:34pm

Hopeful One I wholly agree, a hand touch means the world. It's also enough to turn me to tears! :-) Cyberdumping? Poor you!!

Hi Mary, how is it going? Levelling?
I wrote a response to your lovely blog but realised it was all messy and confused so it's deleted...I'll just say hi instead! Love ratg x.

Hopeful One Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 2:37pm

Hi RATG Lovely to hear from you. I hope you have recovered from your recent downer.

Anonymous Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 3:55pm

Hi Mary
I always look forward to Wednesdays and reading your blogs - I may not comment (been through a tough patch recently) but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy them - you have a lovely turn of phrase. How's the novel? book?
Thank-you for sharing.

Anonymous Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 4:17pm

Trying to ride a roller coaster :-( don't remember being like this before...'recovered' one minute and plunged the next but maybe I have. Stress levels are through the roof right now and I think it's the main culprit. Can't find ways to reduce it though. Thank you so very much for asking HO, means a lot. Love ratg x.

Anonymous Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 4:18pm

Howdy Frankie, love ratg.

Julia Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 6:34pm

Hi ratg. I've been incredibly stressed recently too and don't really know why. I know you hinted that you had some difficult decisions to make so don't be too hard on yourself. I suppose I should take some of my own advice! xxx

Julia Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 6:40pm

Mary. I am so happy you enjoyed your lunch with your hitherto cyber pal. Has it altered the way you see this person in any way? I would be quite worried I think if ever I met up with other Moodscopers that a spell would be broken. I like the idea of not having met and assuming lovely things about us all. I am sure that if I met up with any of you, I would disappoint in some way or even if you were not disappointed, I might return home feeling bad about myself. It's my problem I know and it's complicated trying to explain. But I am so glad it worked out for you. It shows a lot about you I feel.

Anonymous Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 6:48pm

Thank you Hopeful One! :) X

Anonymous Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 6:49pm

Thank you Mary, thats kind. x

Anonymous Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 7:45pm

Hello lovely, I met a very good friend online through a twins thing about ten years ago and she slowly became a brilliant friend. We have only met once because, like you, I think it might spoil things. Meeting made me incredibly nervous and I drank my way to confidence!!!! But she was, and is, lovely. I'm keeping her as she is though because I'm an 'if it ain't broke' kind of person. I definitely feel free online but 'hounded' in person. Love ratg x.

Anonymous Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 7:47pm

Very kind Julia :-) ah yes advice to self...nigh on impossible!! Love ratg x.

Anonymous Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 8:37pm

Hi Julia and RATG
Just a thought - have you tried Bach Flower Rescue Remedy? A few drops in water sipped throughout the day ... I have found it really helpful in the past when going through stressful periods ...

Anonymous Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 8:40pm

Hiya RATG; sorry it's relatively late and I have only just seen this!
See above re; Rescue Remedy ...
Still thinking about you and sending you what strength I can - I am sure you are doing better than you think you are ...

caroline Ashcroft Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 8:57pm

RATG, do your test every day for a while, I'm sure it will help.

Caroline Ashcroft Wed, Apr 8th 2015 @ 9:01pm

Julia, I'm absolutely sure you wouldn't disappoint anyone. I can tell from your comments and emails that you're a very kind and caring person - how could anyone be disappointed.

Anonymous Thu, Apr 9th 2015 @ 12:15am

Thank you Caroline, you're a love :-) Right, I will, it's time I stopped avoiding it!

sharon Thu, Apr 9th 2015 @ 4:08am

I'm not sure I'm doing this right because I'm new to moodscope but I just wanted to say hello and that I enjoyed reading everyone's comments. Here's an on-line hug to everyone from me.

Hopeful One Thu, Apr 9th 2015 @ 5:12am

Hi Sharon/ - from one lark to another ,Welcome to the Moodscope blog! A cyber hug from me . Keep posting.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Thu, Apr 9th 2015 @ 12:15pm

Hi Frankie - you may not get this (now Thursday) but just to let you know the novel's first draft was finished on 23rd December, but a couple of devastating criticisms from beta readers mean the first 4 chapters are being rewritten. Meanwhiile the second one is on chapter 5 about 20K words in - so about 1/4 way there. Not anywhere near as far as I'd hoped, but I'm carrying on anyway and not getting down about it. Thank you for your interest.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Thu, Apr 9th 2015 @ 12:19pm

First of all, hi Sharon and a big hug back to you! Thanks for being here. Julia - has it altered the way I see this person (who's also a Moodscoper BTW)? Yes and no. Yes in that things are always more - visceral - when you actually meet and touch (and this person is physically bigger than I thought they would be and I'm only little) and they are more mad and zany than I thought they would be, but it's all good and I love them even more. My life is richer and brighter for the meeting.

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