Are Social Networks Destroying Offline Relationships?

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Is the Internet destroying relationships that are happening offline? Some people may say “yes! This is destroying my real relationships”. What do you mean… ‘real’? My relationships online are just as real as though offline. You get to know people’s personalities online. Heck, often you get to know the “REAL” person more online, than you do offline. When you’re talking online to someone, you tend to open yourself up more. You don’t feel the need to hide behind makeup and clothes. You can just let yourself be you.

I was doing “internet dating” before there even was such a thing. Heck, Ponzi and I met on an internet dating site. I don’t feel that the Internet has destroyed offline relationships. I feel it has allowed us to discover similarities with people that we may not have known before. It allows us to tear down barriers that would have been there in a ‘real life’ situation. I’m connecting with… and having a friendship or relationship… with people I would have never gotten to know otherwise. I have more in common with my online friends than I do with my next door neighbor. I appreciate my online friends for who they are, not for where they live or how they dress. Just because our connection happens digitally, so to speak, doesn’t make it any less real.

My friend Andy Stanberry is here in the office with me as I’m recording this video. We met… guess where? Online! He flew into Seattle today to help me with developing some cool new things that we’ll be bringing you more information on shortly. He actually Twittered when his plane landed in Seattle and that’s how Kat found out that he was here. Wait. Kat! She’s my rock, my right-hand girl. Kat and I have a ‘relationship’, in that we are friends who met online, and she works for me. She got recognized in “real life” the other day, just for her participation on the stream and on Ventrilo. She was shocked, and I think a bit embarassed. You will all be ‘meeting’ Kat shortly. She’ll be here at my house for the day on April 12th, during her Seattle trip! We’ve all convinced her she has to come and say hello on the stream.

So what are your thoughts about online/offline relationships? Let me hear from you!


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30 thoughts on “Are Social Networks Destroying Offline Relationships?”

  1. Technically the human brain has a limitless amount of space to retain and save information. So if you can manage numerous relationships over the internet, your “real life” relationships should be just as healthy as those internet relationships.

  2. Chris has stopped live streaming his videos! he said that he may have made his last video. watch ‘my last day of live streaming’ by chris, uploaded 3 hours ago

  3. never gonna give you up never gonna let you down never gonna run around and desert you!!! haha actually couldnt stop laughing, hooray for april 1st!

  4. Some people do not have the mental capacity / connectors / sensors for it, and I do not mean this in any quality way – I usually compare it to “and I do not have any for cooking”.

    For some people it really is not normal to go through online. But the same kind of people plus most of the rest tell me “uhm what again is that thing you are doing” – it is not going to be a offline relationship unless I cut back way on what I like to get out of friends.

    Looking at the time since I was online in 95, I got to know so many people I call friends and acquaintances that I would not exchange it for anything in the world. Because realistically the other way is not working – for me. [btw it must have been something like 97 or so when I got to “know” somebody called Chris Pirillo who was sending out that newsletter from the other side of the world to me …]

    Are there downsides to building relationships online? Of course. And I expect most people to get their head around this not for another decade or so – sadly.

  5. Hi Chrish,

    A valid point. I have myself created some social platforms on the web and I definitely advocate SNS. For you and me the progression has been BBS, Groups, Email, Blog, Forums and then to SNS. For some, however this is still a great place to kill the time. They have moved from one couch syndrome to another – from TV to Web. There are two types of users here – Tech Users, the participants of the medium and the users who are the pure consumers of this medium.

    For me, you are the producer and I am also a guy who is engaged in pre-production and post-production of the web. Our view about this medium will be completely different that the view of a teenage who is looking out for voyeuristic pleasures on the web or just kill some time off home work.

    No matter, how active the medium is when you think about the masses the large proportion of it would be still ‘passive’. But again it’s not the fault of the SNS or Web, it is an inherent attribute of human beings.

    Human being are intelligent and self-equipped to destroy their offline relationships with or without SNS.


  6. I agree with Chris. I’d say it’s the perfect combination and they supplement each other. On line you can chat and slowly get to know the person, and yes you do tend to be more open about a lot of things when you are behind a monitor.My girlfriend and I started out as friends, we knew each other, we’d go for coffee but we “really got to know each other” late at night chatting on MSN, where we devulged our innermost secrets, our likes/dislikes and things that we may never have told each other face to face

  7. I agree completely, Chris. My husband kids me about my online “imaginary friends,” but in some ways I know my online friends better than my offline friends. And in many cases, online friends have become offline friends, too.

    The Internet does not destroy human interactions, it enhances them and creates new ways to interact.

  8. Online relationships doesn’t necessarily destroy offline relationships. But I think it depends on how you’re communicating both when you’re online and offline. If you’re just posting in a forum and chatting on IRC all day long, chances are high that you’ll become somewhat asocial (from an offline point of view). I’m in my last year of upper secondary school, and my school is full of geeks, and it’s easy to point out the people who has become a little asocial. For example some of my classmates spend a lot of time together, they bring their laptops home to each other instead of going home alone all the time. And they are much more social and outgoing than many others.

    I think that if you stop communicating like an “offline person” you’ll eventually forget how to do it. Eventually it will all be in your fingers, like when you’re typing “lol” and not laughing out loud, even though you think something is funny.

    My advice would be to use your mic whenever you can, you don’t have to use a webcam, just by audio it’s a whole different thing compared to plain text. I’m nowhere near perfect but at least I know what I can do to improve my social skills, if that’s what you call it (lol).

  9. No experience with online but did post a personal ad once. Met a few folks, and nothing ever came of it, but but one person I met had obviously answered the ad so her and her friends could see what sort of person wrote personal ads. Met at a bar of her chosing and after a couple drinks and a stteady stream of her friends came along (about 6-7 in a 15 minute period) I caught on to what they were doing and left – and left her with the bill. Never tried it again.

  10. LOL… I met ponzi on the internet… where do you expect me to find people? A bar?! lol. i do not think networks destroy offline relationships

  11. What about family relationships? Its usually offline, what happens when some of the family members are spending 7 hours a day online?
    lol. I personally don’t think that soc. networks destroy offline relationships, I’ve been online for years and and my offline relationships is fine if not better.

  12. I went through a few handles on the BBSes. The last two, I was Paranoid then I became Felinoid and then when I joined the Internet I’ve been Felinoid everywhere until recently (Like just this month) I switched back to Paranoid.

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