The internet is very much like the real world - a huge global network in which there are many tight-knit communities. Over the years, I've been fortunate enough to develop some amazing friendship online. These are the kind of friendships that let you be honest - wonderfully, terribly honest. It must be the initial anonymity that fosters this kind of frankness. You know you don't have to see the look in people's eyes if you shock, anger, or disappoint them with your honesty, and that eliminates the risk. Plus, online friends often don't know any of your family or friends, which keeps them objective (or totally biased because they have only your side....either way, it works). There is no pressure to meet for coffee regularly, and nobody gets offended if you don't buy a gift for their birthday.
One such group for me is from the message boards at Just Mommies. I joined in my pregnancy upon the insistence of a real-life friend, and soon I was posting each day in my Due Date Club, which is a group of women who were due to give birth in the same month as me. We spent nine months talking about our pregnancies and getting to know one another. Then, after the births of our babies, we turned into a "Playroom". We now have a Facebook group because it's just so much easier to update from a smartphone, and most of us have a baby in one hand and smartphone in the other. As a group, we have experienced a stillbirth, the untimely death of one of our own members, and family, personal and baby illnesses - but also shared our entire pregnancies, the joy of our births and now we are raising our children "together". There have been arguments and internet hugs alike. One thing is for sure, they are true friends. As a group, they likely know more about me than most of my real-life friends do. When I need to celebrate a triumph or cry on someone's shoulder, they are my first go-tos.
Do you participate in any particular communities online? Have you made hard and fast friendships online? How long have you been friends? I have one online friendship that is in its twelfth year already.