"...The concept of friendship has enjoyed a renewed prominence in the vocabulary of the new digital social networks that have emerged in the last few years. The concept is one of the noblest achievements of human culture. It is in and through our friendships that we grow and develop as humans. For this reason, true friendship has always been seen as one of the greatest goods any human person can experience. We should be careful, therefore, never to trivialize the concept or the experience of friendship. It would be sad if our desire to sustain and develop on-line friendships were to be at the cost of our availability to engage with our families, our neighbours and those we meet in the daily reality of our places of work, education and recreation. If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development..."
New technologies offer in the current panorama of informatics many tools for the development of online friendship.
However the multitude of offers does not necessarily and automatically coincide with the potential of the dynamics of friendship. On the contrary, this can cause the concept and above all the experience of friendship itself to be treated as bit more banal.
Online friendships can create distance from what is always the concrete and relational dimension of friendship that takes place in the “off line” experience. The desire for a virtual connection, says the Pope, cannot take place at the cost of family relationships, relationships with neighbors and with those who we meet in the reality of every day. Virtual places cannot be places of escape from our work, family, or school experiences and from free time lived a a true experience of daily life.
Online friendship, often lived by our children as an extension of “real” friendships, can become friendships that are just as true and constructive if they are lived in a perspective that is not obsessive and all encompassing, alienating or egotistical.
This is why the Pope suggests to young people to live online constantly facing the building of a true and veritable online Christian witness
, above all through friendship lived in an concrete attitude of life, that involves the both the real and virtual dimension in a harmonious view.
Some places that friendships are lived online
- Social Networks
A social network consists in any grouping of people who are connected among themselves by various social bonds, which go from casual acquaintances, to work relationships, to family ties […]
To enter to form part of a network one must create a personal profile, starting with information such as email address all the way to one’s interests and passions (used for the areas of “friendship” and “love”), to past work experiences and relative references (information needed for the “work” profile). At this point one can invite friends to become part of the network, who can do the same in turn, thus we find ourselves increasing the circle of contacts friends of friends and so on, ideally coming to include the entire world population […]
Currently Facebook is one of the best known and widespread social networks
- Personal Blogs
, and more precisely in Internet jargon,
is an internet site, generally managed by a person or an organization, in which the author periodically writes as in a sort of online diary, inserting personal opinions, descriptions of events, or other materials such as pictures or video. Each new post is generally inserted in inverse chronological order. The word blog
is a contraction of web-log,
that is “online tracks” […]
Blogs allow anyone who has an internet
connection to easily create a site
on which they can publish stories, information and opinions in complete anonymity. Each article is generally linked to a thread,
in which readers can write their comments and leave messages for the author. The blog is a place where you can (virtually) be together with others in general you can freely express your opinion. It is web site that is managed an autonomous manner where there is a log
of thoughts; it is almost a sort of personal diary
. Everyone writes their own thoughts and reflections, in real time. In this cybernetic space news, information and stories of all kinds can be published, adding, if desired, even links to other sites of ones interest: the section that contains links to other blogs is called a blogroll. Through a blog we can come into contact with people who are physically far away but often close to ones thoughts and own points of view. You share your thoughts with them, reflections on different situations because it is rare to have a site dedicated to just one theme. You can express your own creativity freely, interacting with other bloggers in a direct manner. A blogger
is a person that writes or manages a blog, while the world of blogs is called the blogosphere
Some blogs can be considered true and veritiable personal or collective diaries, in the sense that they are used to put online
personal stories and important moments of ones life
. In this context reservation, private and personal become collective.
- online chat
The term chat is used to refer to a wide array of services, both telephone
based. These latter are called “online chat” in English speaking countries. These services, even if there are differences among them, have two fundamental elements in common: the fact that the dialogue happens in real time
, and the fact that service can easily connect complete strangers, generally in an anonymous way. The “place” (virtual space) in which the chat happens is generally called a chatroom,
it is also called a channel,
often abbreviated to chan
.[…] The various chat services can be categorized into to primary types:
• one on one, such as instant messaging
• group chat
The chat services that primarily allow for chat with one person at a time belong to the first category. The contacts in this type of chat are personal and contained in an address book, often archived online so that it can be reached by any computer connected to the internet. There is a conversation window for each contact with which one is chatting. With regards to group chat, one on one chat has advanced multimedia functionality such as sending audio and video files, audio clips and personal moticons and letter sharing. The most used services, among many available, are MSN Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk
Often the addresses in these services are tied to an email address or to an account identifier. Group chats have the potential to put hundreds of people in communication at the same moment, in as much as the messages are sent to all the people that are connected to the group at that moment (often called a channel or room). Channels can be distinguished based on topic and language used by its users. The conversations windows are one per channel. There is also the possibility of sending messages in a “private” conversation among two individual users, just like in instant messaging, (this is also called a query). Group chats, such as IRC are principally text based with multimedia elements reducd or absent. The usernames are not always tied to an account, thus allowing greater anonymity. As time passes and the web becomes more powerful, the differences between one on one chat an group chat will diminish: if with group chat such as IRC it has always been possible to send messages to single people, the one on one chat services are turning toward the possibility of using even group chat (even if such a function is sometimes deactivated by the managers of the server following arguments and controversy stemming from such use).