In today’s age, distances have been reduced considerably; people no longer need to see each other personally to establish or maintain a friendship. Since the advent of the Internet, personal relationships have spread through the virtual network.

This relatively new variety of friendship has its pros and cons. In this article we will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of virtual friendship , understood as the link between friends who relate through the Internet.

What is a virtual friendship?

Before reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of virtual or cyber friendship, let’s know what it is. This type of relationship is characterized by the link that two or more people come to develop between them through the web, through a computer or other devices that allow this interaction at a distance.

This is possible today in many ways, thanks to the significant advances that new technologies have made in connecting people. Social networks are increasingly implementing new resources so that their users can interact with each other from wherever they are.

Taking into account all the above-mentioned developments, we can establish that a virtual friendship is the relationship of friendship that people maintain solely and exclusively through any digital means.

Advantages of virtual friendships

Like all things, this form of friendship through new technologies has its positive things and those that are not so positive … Now we will see a list with the advantages that provides the virtual friendship, and later review what are the disadvantages.

1. Reduce distances

Virtual friendship is capable of bringing people together even if they are geographically far apart . Through the various chat servers that exist and the free video call services it is possible to establish or maintain a friendship relationship while being on different continents.

2. provide a safe way to say things

Some people find it more difficult than others to initiate a conversation in person, they are individuals with a shy personality and for them the Internet represents a safe medium in which they can express themselves with greater confidence and establish a relationship with others.

3. Transcend cultural barriers

Virtual friendships have the characteristic of transcending cultural barriers between countries, taking into account that Internet users are people from all over the world .

One of the advantages of virtual friendship is that these users can meet each other in some forum or social network and initiate a lasting friendship relationship through digital channels.

4. Provide a greater sense of equality

Virtual communication provides a sense of equality that is quite enjoyable for some people. In terms of virtual friendship people often feel that there are fewer things that separate them and more things that make them similar .

For example, it doesn’t matter if they have a particular physical condition, or if they are people who like to party, or stay home and read a book on the weekends. All that is irrelevant in virtual friendship, since you only need to be willing to interact with the other person through some device, you don’t need to change your routine or appearance to fit in with a group of virtual friends.

Disadvantages of virtual friendship

Now that we have reviewed what the main advantages of virtual friendship are, let’s look at the most relevant disadvantages of this type of relationship.

1. Can generate insulation

Virtual friendships can make it easier for people to prefer to stay cooped up in front of their computers , as the only form of social interaction, or to spend most of their time using their mobile phones.

2. The absence of physical contact

In conventional friendship relations, physical contact is indispensable; a hug, a handshake, goodbyes with kisses on the cheek , are things that are an intrinsic part of a friendship and make it grow. When it is a purely virtual friendship this aspect is not fulfilled.

3. Can be addictive

When people spend too much time interacting with their virtual friends they may become addicted to new technologies, which is a behavioural type of addiction.
This type of addiction can significantly affect various aspects of the lives of those who suffer from it; the work, family and personal environments are the most common to be damaged .

4. Lends itself to scams

Virtual contact with other people is a means that many fraudsters use to capture their victims, which is why one should be very cautious when initiating a friendship with a totally unknown person through the Internet.

Bibliographic references:

  • Blieszner, R.; Adams, R. G. (1992). Adult Friendship. Sage. ISBN 978-0-8039-3673-7.
  • Crosnoe, R., & Needham, B. (2004) Holism, contextual variability, and the study of friendships in adolescent development. University of Texas at Austin.