Sunday, May 23, 2010

True friendship, online and off.

A young friend shared an article on my facebook page today. From the UTne Reader and titled "Faux Friendship" the author of the article was comparing online and real life friendships as two separate things, finding "online"  guilty of eroding the values of true friendship.  

Reading the article made me wonder whether the author had experienced - both in real life and online - the pure joy of sharing and communicating with like-minded souls in ways that are "authentic, transparent, wise" (as Soren Gordhamer  says).  I wondered, too, if he (the author) was exasperated by perhaps not having found what he was searching for on facebook or other online forums.

"Friendship" he said, "was a high calling, demanding extraordinary qualities of character, rooted in virtue and dedicated to the pursuit of goodness and truth.".  Was?   To me friendship is friendship... online and offline.  The online environment is purely a platform for people to connect. As my favourite swami says "The pots and pans are not the cooking".

Another thing I wondered was whether the author had taken the opportunity to join one of the thousands of online communities, where individuals befriend each other, sharing thoughts and resources to bring about positive change, actions for good, benefiting the millions in our world disadvantaged by a lack of connectedness? Here are just two awesome examples of connecting for change by "online" friends: Eddie and Venessa .

Last month in Silicon Valley a group of amazing people (including Eddie and Venessa) met face-to-face, having connected through social media to share a three day conversation about being mindful in a digital world.   Please enjoy a taste of the values of true friendship as experienced here at the Wisdom 2.0 Summit.

In me those three days sparked a beautiful realisation that "the moral content of classical friendship, its commitment to virtue and mutual improvement" is not lost, but  infinitely enhanced by our online connections.