Opinion: Online Friends Cannot be Considered Real Friends

Isabel Ramos-Assam, Writer

The Internet has been a part of our daily life for decades, and, throughout these years, many relationships have formed via social media or email. Although it may be a hard truth for many Internet users, online friends are not as legitimate as real friends. A lack of face-to-face contact, false perception, and security risks all factor into this belief.

As humans, we desire interpersonal relationships and company. We have an innate need to socialize and interact with others to build and strengthen relationships. Online friends are incapable of providing this need because they are limited by a screen.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “friends prevent isolation and loneliness.”

Although online friends may provide the temporary feeling of being accompanied, you are still physically isolated while communicating with them.

It is evident that friends are crucial to having a well-balanced life. With this considered, what is the harm of having online friends in addition to real friends? Taylor Curlin, a junior at Coronado, believes online friends are always reliable and a constant in your life.

“I consider an online friend to be someone you can talk to and ask for advice,” Curlin said. “Whenever you need someone to talk to, but aren’t at school or somewhere you’re easily able to talk to someone, it’s helpful to be able to go online and talk to them instead.”

Many Internet users believe that their online friends temporarily provide comfort. However, communicating solely online is not enough to establish an authentic relationship. In person friends provide a sense of true human interaction that leads to deeper connections between people. Genese Muñoz, a junior at Coronado High School, believes that an online friend does not compare to real friends.

“I would love to consider them [online friends] friends, but at the same time, I’m never going to be as close to them as I am with people who I hang out with every day, like at school for example,” Muñoz said. “So, as much as I want them to be friends, they’re more than likely going to be strangers.”

Not only do online relationships lack foundation and in-person contact, but they commonly consist of false perceptions. When you communicate with an online friend, you are communicating with how the online friend wants to be perceived. This online barrier does not allow you to know the person’s real identity.

According to The Conversation, “Almost every online deception, fraud and scam – even propaganda and misinformation campaigns – begins with a fake social media profile.”

Fake profiles are prevalent in online relationships, which are potential hazards. It is easy to fall into the trap of an online connection with someone else, especially when the connection provides the comfort you are seeking. Although not all online relationships are unsafe, engaging in online relationships has a risk factor.

“One time, this one person was lying about other information, and I had no way of figuring out what was the truth and what was fake,” Muñoz said.

There is no ultimatum that online relationships can’t be legitimate. However, you should always be aware of the limitations and deceptions that can occur. Friendships are built on genuine bonds, and with online friends, there is no guarantee that this essential connection is authentic.