Thoughts On Friendship

morningAs I climbed up the hill which leads to the nearest train station, thoughts of Dennis flickered through my consciousness, interrupting my mental preparations for the teacher-training workshop I was on my way to give.

Dennis shares several of the online communities I roam in and while I don't always agree with what he says, I noticed his marked absence in a 'fight' about the use of technology in the classroom which had kicked off on one of them.

I was worried about him simply because he and his opinions weren't there. I've not met Dennis yet somehow, oddly, he has crept into my 'circle of people I care and think about.' I wondered if I should tweet and check that all was okay with him.

Later on, in the workshop (I was subbing for another trainer on a subject am not the expert in), when I told the trainees that a quick sos via my tweetdeck had provided all the research, materials and groundwork I needed for the session, they asked me to explain the value of Twitter.

A big old grin spread right across my face as I told them stories of Neal Chambers and his help with a techie problem, Scott Thornbury's bee-in-his-bonnet about IWBs vs Jeremy Harmer's, Seth Dicken's and Gavin Dudeney's wise retorts; Neal, Marisa and Tamas' story unveiling in 140 characters; Aniya's expresso machine and unending links.

Although I didn't tell them about Burcu's birthday cake, I thought about it and I felt happy.

Alright, I felt choked up.

I said, Twitter, like most of the online communities I belong to, has opened my life up to having conversations with other like-minded (and not like-minded) colleagues from all around the world and some of these are fast becoming my friends.

What is friendship? I questioned as I climbed back down the hill later on in the evening. Why have some of these people become as important to me as the real people I know?

Is it because I'm a nerd, who needs to get a 'real' life, as two list-members from this particular yahoo!group described people who use technology in their classes as?

And that is your speaking lesson tip for the week ahead.

Our students all have friends, in real life and some virtually, but what is it, exactly?

When virtually, how does it manage to cross the borders of physicality?

What about the friends they meet at work? Are they their friends simply because they see them everyday or because of shared interests?

eveningHow does one define friendship? Why do some people creep into our hearts before we have realized it? Do we choose our friends, do they choose us or does it just happen?

Ask them to describe the wonderful people in their life circles, how they met them and ask why friendships are the nearest thing to happiness.


7 Responses to “Thoughts On Friendship”

  • Anonymous says:
    June 15, 2009

    Hi Karenne,

    Many thanks for this idea that I could definitely use for our next "language café" (English conversation group). Interesting thoughts about online "friendship" too. It has been about a year now since I started developing great working relationships online with people I have never actually met. Not sure if I could call them "friendships" yet, but they could easily become that once I we get the opportunity to catch up in real life - something I hope to do at some point. I never would have thought that possible a few years ago.

  • Alex Case says:
    June 15, 2009

    Nice post. I read a similar piece about someone who was moved by the death of someone they had only "met" online, and it was really moving, as is this.

    Obviously getting into an online community is the very opposite of being a geek, as it shows the same social skills that you obviously have in your "normal" life. I was always more of a writing sub Morissey poetry alone in my room kind of a teenager, and that lack of social skills continues in my complete lack of comprehension of Twitter and Facebook. Takes all sorts, but preferably with more of your sort and less of mine...

    June 15, 2009

    Hi Alex,

    and then there's blogging and the bloggers. After years of reading your blog silently and then taking the plunge to blog myself, I began talking to you.

    It goes without saying that you are one of my all-time favorite people in the virtual world of people I've never met ;-).


    June 15, 2009

    Hi Bourn,

    Glad you enjoyed the post and can try this out with your students.

    It's interesting that you mentioned not being sure if you call them "friendships" - I think that's part of my exploration into the theme, what is friendship and when is a friend, a friend.

    Does it need to be reciprocal?

    How interesting all these new developments and the web 2.0 is, I wonder what the teenies think or if they just take it all in stride!


  • Dennis says:
    June 16, 2009


    Thank you for some very complimentary remarks. Having spent about 25 years working in a German university I've had much more practice dealing with criticism and hostility than with praise. Why was I silent for nearly three weeks? Nothing sinister - I was on holiday in England and Wales!

    June 17, 2009

    Hi Dennis,

    Glad to hear from you and that all's well!


  • Illya Arnet says:
    May 27, 2010

    Wow, Karenne,
    It's amazing, but I nearly felt like I was reading a post I wrote a while ago. Ok, your expression is different than mine, but the sentiments are the same!

    I've had the same discussion about 'virtual' friendship with others who just don't understand that it real friendship is possible. I know where my friends are when I need them, and I am there for others as well, even when I am busy reducing my computer time for family sake.

    I think the best example of how NOT virtual on-line friendships can be is when two come together and it's like you've been friends for ages. But it depends on how much of your inner self you are willing to give and how safe and caring the on-line environment is.


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