Recent feedback has had a knock-on effect on how I feel about the purpose of this blog, so I feel compelled to explain myself more than I might have done in the past. To somebody who has not experienced an online friendship, or the loss of such a relationship, there may be no clear difference to ‘ordinary’ grief.
For those of us who have experienced it, however, both the friendship and the loss, there are definite differences. When people have experienced the loss of somebody they knew in real life, they have traditional ritual open to them, such as going to a funeral or holding a personal memorial, if that would be more in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.
People who have experienced cyberloss are lucky if they are in a position where they can attend a funeral, but more often than not, this is impossible for reasons of distance. The Internet has been useful in many ways for business and promotion, but the social side of it has largely been neglected in the media, save for being demonized and made to sound like there’s some incredible threat afoot if you dare to get to know somebody well online.
Anybody who has experienced an online friendship can tell you wonderful stories of the benefits that they experienced from such friendship. Personally, I enjoyed being able to share with Chris in an entirely different way to the way in which I would share with friends I saw every day.
The nature of online friendships means that it is possible to share more than we would normally with those we see every day, because people we speak to online are less likely to judge us for our reactions and our feelings.
However, when an online friend dies, problems can arise because of this lack of accepted avenues for remembrance. People do not talk about online loss yet, because it is not mainstream, those who have experienced it are few and far between, and have enough difficulty finding resources to support themselves, let alone finding others who have gone through the same experience.
That sums up my mission for Navigating Cyberloss, through this blog, I wish to create a place where people who have lost online friends can come to remember those people and share their memories with a community of like-minded people.
It is my hope that people who have been affected by cyberloss will find comfort and support here in knowing that they are most certainly not alone, there are others who have experience of similar situations. In spite of the public view of online friendship and cyberloss as somehow ‘abnormal’, these losses are as worthy of grief as any other loss, and they should be recognised as such.
Through this blog, I also pay tribute to the online friends I have known and lost, in the hope that I am doing something with the experience that they would appreciate.
May each and every person who reads this find the peace and strength they are searching for.