Who Needs Fraitors & Frenemies When You Can Have (Gasp), Friends?

by Bess on October 14, 2010 · 20 comments

“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”  These two sentences represents everything I retained during the three years I was a Brownie, save for an intense love of cookies.

While the song was somewhat cheesy and eternally annoying, I believe there is some truth in this adage.

I can’t say enough good things about the great friendships I’ve forged through blogging.  I mean, Rachel and Dori are two of my favorite people to share music and talk boys with and I am so lucky to have an awesome running and eating partner in AJ. To say I thoroughly enjoy all of my fellow Hollaback Health girls and Golden Girls crew and would love nothing more than to have a stiff vodka cocktail with MelissaNibbles should comprise the Webster’s definition of “understatement.”

Despite the potential to form amazing bonds, there’s no denying that there is a sense of cattiness in the blogging world that has the ability to suck you in quicker than an episode of “Bad Girl’s Club” (yes I love this show and I’ll own that).

In keeping with my opening motto, I have not allowed my blog friendships to affect my in person friendships. The vast majority of my friends are not bloggers and most of my closest friends are people I have known for at least seven years (and I just got back from the wedding of a friend I’ve known since age three).

Sure, I sometimes get distracted when I get e-mails from comment feeds I subscribe to, a laugh-so-hard-I-almost-peed Tweet, or notification of a new blog comment. Total strangers can bring a lot of joy to our daily lives. However, let’s use Hollywood’s lessons to illustrate the importance of having friends outside of the blogosphere.

With blog friends, you may become a “Yes Man.”

I tell my real friends not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. But on the Internet, it’s easy to fall prey to the pack mentality and jump on the yes (wo)man bandwagon that so many bloggers have established. Need I remind you that using nothing but the affirmative led Jim Carrey’s character in “Yes Man” stranded with no gas and a dead cell phone battery, later detained by FBI agents?  And he nearly lost a shot with Zooey Deschanel!! Real friends are people you can be real with. Blog friendships don’t always allow that.

You may also become a mean girl.

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” is even easier to adhere to on the web.  The chances for encountering a Regina George type online are exponentially higher  than in real life, and a popular blogger’s entourage is much bigger than the Plastics. This is especially troubling given the unexplainable ease for revealing your most intimate secrets to virtual strangers (in my psych classes, this was referred to as the “stranger on the train” phenomenon).

There’s also the competition factor. When we’re all striving toward common goals, entering the same contests, and trying to get noticed by the same people, things can get ugly. A recent post from Run Sleep Rinse Repeat does a great job of illustrating that some blog friendships better resemble a “Real Housewives” cast than a “let’s hold hands, wear matching clothes and sing from the hillside” family of Von Trapps.

Blog friends can turn you into a devil in Prada.

Diversifying your friend pool makes for the most enriching friendships. Even if you live in a city where there are many health blogger friends in your proximity, I find that lasting friendships are not always based on common ground. We recently wrote about group think, and having all health blogger friends is a quick route to losing site of what’s “normal” outside our niche. Further, by hanging out solely with people all trying to emulate the same niche, you risk running into an sea witch situation…and is it really worth wasting all that time and energy over someone you’ve never even met? Remember, for every picture perfect assistant Emily Chalton, there’s a Miranda Priestly convincing Andy Sachs to screw her colleague over to genuflect to the Paris Fashion Gods (and sexy Simon Baker).

While it’s great to use blogging as a way to make new friends, it shouldn’t come at the cost of your real friends or your sanity. If you’re skipping hangouts with people you know in real life to tweet with virtual strangers, it might be time to take a step back.

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