On the great, cosmic scale, we are all ephemeral creatures. What really got me thinking though, was the online communities we now, increasingly, belong to.
Online relationships are still relationships. They are still real. People who get along with each other and enjoy each other’s “company” can still do so in a purely online context. I have a number of very good friendships that are 100% online as well as a few that while mostly online, also have an element of physical presence involved.
These friendships are, to me at least, “real” friendships, in that the feelings that I experience from these relationships is the same as those I experience when I am with “real life” friends.
Lines are, of course, forever moving and blurring. The separation between online and “real” lives is much less distinct. Increasingly, the online, far from being a distinct “other life” is being more deeply integrated into our “real” lives.
But while these electronic/cyber relationships/friendships are just as real as their physical counterparts, there is an inherent fragility about them.
At one end of the scale, people can delete their online/social accounts. or they can change their email address/mobile phone number. People can be hacked, have their identities cloned. At the extreme end, people may turn out not to be the person you think they are, or even the person they say they are. Then, particularly prevalent in the online sex-positive/kink-positive community, people can have their accounts suspended/terminated without any notice at all.
There is always the risk that someone we have chatted to, joked with, flirted with for weeks/months/years may just vanish without choosing, or being able to say goodbye.
No matter how “close” we are to someone online, we may never truly know what is going on in their life. The same is true about relationships in the physical world, but the very nature of the internet, and the way it can connect people who might never meet face-to-face, does seem, potentially at least, to make these friendships/relationships, the most ephemeral one we will ever be a part of.