So I just read this article about the etiquette of virtual friends...in the article in question, the author's friend had just died and he didn't know whether or not it was appropriate to attend the funeral, having never actually met him in person nor even seen a picture of his face.
Which is intriguing, I feel. It's no secret that I have a lot of online friends, mostly from the wonderful Fuck This...I'm Going To Hogwarts. I joined the group on Feb 1st 2008, which means I've been a member for over four years and I've known these people longer than any of my Uni friends, and a significant portion of my friends from home too.
Would I go to their funerals, though? Depends on the person. Unfortunately most of my closest friends on that site are from a million miles away, so practically it's an impossibility. If they were closer? I think I probably would, and I know a lot of people who would.
Friendship is subjective...these people aren't my best friends ever, and they can't be: we never meet, we don't have shared experiences and our communication is limited to hours spent online. But we do share our trials and tribulations, rejoice in our triumphs, commiserate with each other when things get hard, and occasionally have long drunken conversations which make no sense.
Rather than being best friends, I'd say we're the kind of people who you have a little chat with every time you meet; you don't really see each other out of school/work/whatevs but if they died? You'd go to a friendly acquaintance's funeral, right?
The internet offers a whole new set of paradigms and boundaries but I do think they're comparable to "normal" friendships. So internet friends? If any of you see fit to die within the four walls of this country, you can count on me to attend your funeral.
Which I'm sure is a very comforting thought indeed.