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Forum topic by mot posted 12-30-2007 10:07 PM 1635 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4922 posts in 4274 days

12-30-2007 10:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: imaginary friends

I’ve always been curious about the dynamic of the internet based friendship. The single serving friend, or the imaginary friend (as my wife calls it.)

They dynamic I’m most curious in, is not in the formation of the friendships, but in the way they seem to develop with great haste, and then, seemingly, die at the same rate. Sometimes slower, but nonetheless, the point at which they fizzle out is puzzling.

I’m sure it’s the same in face to face friendships. The bonds that draw you together are not strong enough to keep you together. Perhaps it’s the sheer volume of people that you become acquainted with, that makes maintaining these friendships impossible.

Is it a function of time equity? You just don’t have the resources available to maintain things at the same rate that you started, thereby having to “cut bait,” from time to time?

Is it a function of learning more about a person makes them less interesting than when you only had a single common bond?

Is it a function of life getting in the way and the constraints of just making it through your day as a parent, child, sibling or whatever, just preclude your abilities to keep up with people you don’t ever see?

I was just wondering this. My wife asked about a person I was talking about a few months ago. My reply was, “I have no idea.” She said, “Are your imaginary friends that expendable?” I thought it was an “all the way off, or all the way on” type of question, but it did make me ponder a bit.

What happened to that person that you see very active, yet who isn’t actively participating in your discussions? What did that person do that makes you no longer participate in theirs? Is it a function of you or they doing anything at all? Or mearly just a fact of not having anything to say?

I’m sure this is somewhat affected by Mark’s death. Had Karson and Mike not reached out, how would any of us of known. Are imaginary friend, indeed, that expendable?

I’m not going to waste a lot of time on this, but this is what I was thinking about this morning for a few minutes while I try and find another excuse to not clean up my desk.



-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

29 replies so far

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4112 days

#1 posted 12-30-2007 10:22 PM

That’s pretty deep. You will probably have a lot of people thinking about this. I know I have recently more-or-less checked out of another forum I used to be very active in.

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4177 days

#2 posted 12-30-2007 10:28 PM

Very interesting questions Tom. Online relationships, like face to face relationships are remarkably dynamic. For my part, online friends start very contextual and sometimes grow to more, sometimes not. The people I enjoy here have not quite made it to the official friend category (but are the best potential I’ve ever seen) for a variety of reasons; single point of contact, lack of time, limited opportunity to go beyond the initial subject.

The folks here are a strange (and I mean that in a good way) bunch. They seem to care about the people they interact with, and if they don’t they are very good at hiding it. Personally, I would welcome more contact, yet there is hesitation as I’m sure with others, that there may not be a connection beyond the one subject and typically, rejection follows that realization.

For the time being, I look forward to the interaction here, and enjoy the characters that inhabit this place. If the folks here are not as friendly as they seem and there is no chance for an extended connection, then I’ll be content pretending that there is more here than a “single serving.”

-- Working at Woodworking

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18618 posts in 4398 days

#3 posted 12-30-2007 10:30 PM

there’s a saying that I can never remember exactly but it’s something like people coming into your life for a reason (short term), a season (a longer duration) and … something else which is a lifetime relationship. Whether it’s in the 2D world or the 3D world, I think it is the same.

Sometimes we hit it off with someone because we have a similar interest… and then when that topic is covered we have nothing left to talk about.. or perhaps we find some quirks or beliefs that we just don’t find compatible to our own and we drift apart… sometimes it is simply time and priorities (and all of those other excuses for not staying in touch).

And then there are those relationships that fizzle for a while and then something brings them back into our lives for another “season”....

Here, in the 2D world, the friendships can be stronger than most in our lives because we are here due to the common interest that isn’t fleeting (for most anyway). We’re here to talk wood. Can never be disappointed – the conversation will be about wood! If you don’t feel like talking about wood, you simply won’t log on.

The hard part about 2D friends is the “disappearance” – the not knowing what has happened to him/her.. not being able to find out because you may not even know their real name…... one day they post a comment and then the next….....

When my friend and I first started chatting (many, many years ago) we called ourselves pioneers in the chat world. It was true. This is a whole new realm that we are yet to fully understand.

thanks for the philosophical contemplation.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View EGA's profile


223 posts in 4051 days

#4 posted 12-30-2007 10:37 PM

I’ve always pondered aquaintences virsus friends. I’m older than dirt and haven’t filled one hand with friends. Good topic which will draw a load of opinions. I cherish all my aquaintences Tom and am sure everyone else does also, but a friend you will know when you run across him/her for sure. It will be known by both of youj and you will never have to mention it. Semper Fi !


View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4398 days

#5 posted 12-30-2007 10:45 PM

at our last bonfire breakfast we were discussing “friends” and someone said that a friend will be there to stop you from getting yourself into trouble.. and a “good friend” will be getting into trouble right along with you.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View toyguy's profile


1672 posts in 4075 days

#6 posted 12-30-2007 10:51 PM

The internet is a strange place indeed. I think, at least in some, our interests change a bit and we move on to greener pastures.

About five or six years ago I found myself head deep in playing internet golf (Links). I was a member of a few different sites and I was on at least 4 leader boards. I was playing 10 rounds a week, with different imaginary friends (as your wife puts it). Some guys I played with every week. Some just once in a while. There must have been hunderds over the time I was involved..But just one of all those guys have I actually stayed in contact with. We have never met. He is in Montana and I up here in Ontario Canada….. But for some reason, we just hit it off. I get e-mail from him all the time and I likewise send back. Funny, but I feel as close to him as many of my face to face friends. When his daughter got married, he asked if I could make it to the wedding. It didn’t happen, but I sure would have liked it to.

Your right, sometimes we just have to “cut bait”

-- Brian, Ontario Canada,

View Karson's profile


35153 posts in 4638 days

#7 posted 12-30-2007 10:52 PM

Tom. You are an Imagined invisible friend. I haven’t seen your picture, so I guess you do not exist. No picture didn’t happen. I’ve seen your son riding his Christmas Horse, your shop so I guess they exist, unless they are pictures of Bob#2’s shop But then i don’t know if he exists either.

It is an interesting question. What makes us consider someone our friend, want to be around them, near them, miss them when they are not there, forget them.

Are our abilities to want everyone be a friend be so small that we can only consider one or two to be true friends. All others are acquaintances or ex-acquaintances., or never met.

I guess that if you never have anything in common, then I guess the only thing to talk about is how you don’t like the things they like. At least having one thing in common keeps you talking so that you can learn of their wives name, their children’s names. Maybe even their phone number so you can communicate a different way. Maybe an address. You are getting closer – they trust you enough to give you more information. But not enough for your credit card # and pin #.

Yes it’s an interesting question. But as for me it won’t keep me awake tonight. I’ll just be happy for the friends that I have today and rejoice in the ones I’ll have tomorrow.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View mot's profile


4922 posts in 4274 days

#8 posted 12-30-2007 10:56 PM

Some of my closest acquaintances are internet friends. They are the people that I most want to talk to when I’m driving for 5 hours in solitude. I’ve met some really great people, and the nice thing is, the jerks you come across go up in a puff of smoke as quick as you can hit the delete key.

The online friend is just really interesting to me. I can spend a fair amount of time yakking with someone online, yet have trouble filling 10 minutes of interaction with most people. My friends say it’s because I’m pretty hard to get along with, (keep it to yourself Bob,) but I get easily bored which makes internet friends so great. When I’m done talking, I can just walk away from the computer, and seemingly pick up where I left off hours or days later.

If I can find a real life friend like that, then you’d have something. Someone who asks you a question, you look at them, ponder it, walk away, come back four days later and reply as if they just said it. How grand that would be. (I’m mostly kidding of course.)

I wonder if this type of friendship is part of the death of common courtesy, though. The death of grammar, penmanship and basic writing skills. The death of appRopriate capitalization or the use of punctu,ation! The internet has certainly been the death of spelin. So is it now the death of courteous human interaction as well?

And what about the person that isn’t who they say they are at all? The “chairlift liar,” if you will. I ski alot, and I’ve met senators, and Disney animators, vascular surgeons and inventors. I’ve met people that I rode up with last weekend that were a vascular surgeon then, and now they are a Disney animator.

I wonder if this type of relationship is so superficial, that ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether they animated a Disney movie about a surgeon that became a senator. All of this can be a bond between fiction and non-fiction, containing elements of intentionally misspelled words and internet specific vernacular.

Very interesting.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Karson's profile


35153 posts in 4638 days

#9 posted 12-30-2007 11:14 PM

Ver….ry Interesting.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4112 days

#10 posted 12-30-2007 11:25 PM

The internet has also been the death of the capital I, i think.

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4552 days

#11 posted 12-30-2007 11:33 PM

Somewhere in the seventies “i” quit knowing my neighbors. Was that me growing up or did something change? Kids use to play outside. We use to talk over back fences when mowing the lawn. Something about my world changed. I was at a kids birthday party last night and the TV was on the whole time with no one watching it. About 20 adults, half of us just sitting in a social stupor. I’m thinking it’s TV that killed common courtesy.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4112 days

#12 posted 12-31-2007 12:18 AM

Well put, Tom. Some interesting points. It made me think about why I am here.

Probably the biggest attraction I had to this website initially is that it gives me an audience to show off my work to. I don’t have my work in galleries or stores and usually give pieces away as gifts. After spending so many hours, weeks, etc. on a piece of work, I would show it to a dozen or so family/friends and that’s it. I think it was Odie who ranted about the short comments (“that’s nice,” etc.) that people say on this website… well when it’s your family, well, how do I explain… I guess since they aren’t woodworkers, and they don’t know what went in to a project, they are easily impressed. At least at LumberJocks I can get an honest critique, ALONG with the much welcomed (at least to me) praise.

So I really enjoy having a place to display my work for an audience that is genuinely interested and has a varied level of experience with woodworking. The feedback is outstanding and I learn just as much from the feedback as I did from the process of building the project.

The other reason I am here is to just discuss woodworking. I love sharing ideas as a two way street. But getting back to your point, I guess making “friends” is sort of secondary. If it happens along the way, than that’s fine. But I wouldn’t try to force it, especially since it’s the internet. Like you said, usually the quicker any relationship starts, the quicker it ends. I think this is true across the board from internet buddies to marriages.

I do however, try to treat people that I meet on the net the same as I would treat people I met in a classroom setting or coworkers in an office: with respect, kindness, tact, and a grain of salt, until I really have had a chance to get to know them. Then if a genuine friendship develops along the way I’m sure it will be a durable one.

By the way I like Debbie’s comment about the 3D vs. 2D world. Thanks for the interesting post, Tom.

-- Happy woodworking!

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4112 days

#13 posted 12-31-2007 12:23 AM

Like you said, usually the quicker any relationship starts, the quicker it ends.

Normally I’d agree with you. However, Five months after I met my wife we were married. We both have committed for a lifetime. We’ve been happy together for over twelve years now. I am blessed. There was no internet component to our relationship though.

View TomFran's profile


2959 posts in 4232 days

#14 posted 12-31-2007 01:39 AM

The internet is a strange place. People can be living an ater ego. They may depict themselves as a person that is nothing like who they really are.

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4035 posts in 4301 days

#15 posted 12-31-2007 02:11 AM

Interesting commentary, Tom. It’s your willingness to trade in ideas without additional varnish that makes you an asset in the world of “imaginary friends”.

Oh, and TomFran, oddly I liked you better before you went all hunky. Please don’t start in about anti-depressive medication and your teen-aged paramour. It will be better for all of us. ;-D

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

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