Thursday, March 06, 2014


I have often wondered about e-friendships. This new category of friends first emerged with internet chat relays or IRC applications that we used so avidly in the nineties. I remember going to internet cafes and coughing out money to chat with someone from either exotic Indonesia or entertaining Paris, or staid India in one of the chat rooms so elegantly set up by the servers of mIRC.
Over the years, these chat rooms bloomed all over the net, and one had Yahoo chat rooms, MSN chat rooms, porn chat rooms and what not. I can clearly recall the language of these chats ... the first chats would invariably be a/s/l ...(age, sex, location). Most of these chats would continue benignly; some would flower into great friendships ... I am still in touch with a few of those friends; yet others would veer into prohibited territories of pornography, causing me to exit such chats and to block such users.

As I grew more comfortable with the internet and acquired my own computers, so also internet evolved; more things became available, and over time, I stopped participating in chats. Then, in the early years of the new millenium, social networking happened, and e-friendships bloomed like never before. Facebook games allowed me to interact with names ... names that helped me to harvest a crop in Farmville, or cook a dish in Cafe World, or feed an animal in Zoo World, or play games with people in Mindjolt, or other similar apps. My friends-circle grew so hugely that I soon crossed the 1000-friends level. Then, again, my interest in cooperative games declined, but the friends stuck with me. I can say confidently that at least 200 of my games friends are still communicating with me ... either wishing me on my important days, or "liking" my statuses, or pictures, or posts ... or sharing my status on their own pages, etc.

One other medium helped me garner friends from all over the world, and that was the world of writing.com. I now have really good and close e-friends from almost all continents of the world. And I am proud of each one of them.

Today, the youth is moving to mobile apps like whatsapp, and forming groups on whatsapp is once again engineering the making of new friends. I am a part of many academic and social groups on Whatsapp, and have made several new friends as a result of this.

This, in as few words as was possible, is what e-friendships mean to me. They are no less, and perhaps more, than real world friends, as they are always around to share in your happiness, commisserate with you in your misery, helping you to lift your spirits when you are down, tempering your enthusiasm when it is wrongly directed, and advising you on matters that not even your closest family members can give you a clear perspective on.

A big thank you to all my internet friends ... er, e-friends!

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