On Friendship: Virtual Friendship

I can remember when virtual friendship was only something that happened in Sci-fi cartoons. It was while I was a young teen that it started to be a ‘real thing’, and I’m not ashamed to say that connecting with strangers online and forming friendships at every level of emotional intimacy has been a blessing to me.

As an introvert finding in-person friendships that go as deep as my soul desires and don’t settle on the surface of only ‘doing’ and ‘having fun’ is hard. Really hard. It always has been and I think it always will be, but one of the beauties of online communication is you can’t rely on the ‘doing’ you HAVE to talk. There are also only so many things to talk about before you run out of fun stuff and have to dip your tie into deep waters of thought, or, say goodbye and part ways. It really is the same pattern as in-person friendships follow, but you get to skip some of the very beginning stages, knowing that if you are in the same online space you definitely have a few things in common, and this can speed up the proses of connection.

In fact, online interactions can be a whirlwind of deep conversations. To a heart that is longing for friendship, it can be a different kind of addictive than the general scrolling through posts on social media. As a backlash broken friendships can happen in the blink of an eye and come with a deep and painful grief.

“In fact, online interactions can be a whirlwind of deep conversations.”

This can be surprising to many people who have not experienced online friendship yet or have chosen not to give it a chance. (The latter being a completely understandable choice.) But believe me when I say that online friendship can be just as real as in person, just as fulfilling, and just as painful. But it can also be dangerous.

Misunderstandings happen in abundance without the added context of voice inflections and body language which are a key part of human communication. Outright deception is also much easier to pull off. But these dangers are present in in-person relationships as well. It’s all about learning. Just like toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners, all learn the basics of in-person connections, when we start to enter online communication platforms there is a time of learning that happens. What is safe? What isn’t safe? What one individual might be comfortable with, another might not be. The need to show respect and remember that the text on the screen means there is a soul somewhere in the world taking in the words you say or say through video uploads that come in short clips and rarely show all sides of a conversation. Discernment is needed when interacting online, but at the same time, the lack of those communication cues makes it harder to use discernment. Emotions are heightened and judgment is sometimes absent.

“Discernment is needed when interacting online, but at the same time, the lack of those communication cues makes it harder to use discernment.”

Still, I think if we are willing to learn how to participate in healthy online interactions, virtual friendships can be a blessing. I know mine have been. In fact, I met my husband online as a teen.

Virtual friendships have the ability to drive the seed of connection deep and can grow into something that is truly beautiful. But I believe no friendship kept purely online ever reaches its full potential. Just like my relationship with my husband could only go so far while we date online, and needed to be brought to in-person interactions at one point, for some purely platonic friendship to grow to achieve full growth, then need to add in-person interactions as well. Not every virtual friendship is meant for this, and indeed for some that are strong online an in-person element will be too much and cause it to crumble. But the blending online and in person can forge unbreakable bonds. Again, discernment is needed to know what ones, as well as the willingness to maturity to let go when things don’t work like we hoped.

Lossing virtual friendships is scary, and leaves a hole just as painful as losing in-person friendships. If you have experienced this loss don’t discount the grief you might go through. These breaks often require time to heal and sort out just like losing a childhood friend. Give yourself grace during that time.

“Lossing virtual friendships is scary, and leaves a hole just a painful as losing in-person friendships.”

If you are one of those people that steer away from virtual friendship, I also want to say that is completely okay. It is also much more acceptable to cut virtual friendships from your life if it is becoming detrimental to your health in any way. Humans were made to first connect in person. No matter how many good online friendships you may have, it is very hard to be a whole and healthy mind without an in-person connection. Your family, your in-person friends, and your community should always come first until an online friendship turns into an in-person friendship and joins the circle of family, friends and community.

If you are someone who walks the virtual community roadway you may at times experience someone cutting you off in favour of family and in-person friendship. No matter how deep the connection you might have online with someone goes, being able to let go of that person, is extremely important. It’s okay to grieve if they need to leave you behind, but it’s also healthiest for you to not hold on to someone who needs that space.

Friendships and human relationships are complex at any level. This short opinion piece is by no means a guide to friendship and I am no expert. I’m just a woman who has been walking the path of virtual connection for twenty-two years and feel compelled to give some advice. My intent is to start a conversation and to help us all think deeply about the decisions we make in our human friendships. The world is going through fast changes right now. Wisdom, and hearts that are open to learning are required to keep us all healthy and happy while navigating new ways to form friendships. I’m praying for discernment for all of us.

Thank you for stopping in to read my heart,
Mary Grace van der Kroef

Copyright ©2023 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Previous Post – On Friendship: Receiving and Giving Forgiveness

Previous Post – On Friendship: The Word Enemy

Previous Post – On Friendship: My First Friend

Previous Post – On Friendship: What is it?

Previous Post – On Friendship: The Word Friend

Previous Post – On Friendship: Introduction

Forthcoming Post – On Friendship: In Person

Forthcoming Post – On Friendship: Friend Doesn’t Mean Project

Success! You're on the list.

On Friendship: The Word Enemy

We have looked at the word ‘friend’, what it means, and where it comes from, but sometimes it helps to understand a word or idea by looking at and understanding its opposite. So what is the opposite of a friend?

An enemy.

What does the word enemy mean? Here is the first definition point from dictionary.com.

a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.


Something I noticed while reading this definition is how it’s packed with action. ‘Fosters harmful designs’, ‘feels hatred for’, ‘engages in antagonistic activities’. So at least when it comes to a personal enemy, it’s not someone who simply feels indifferent towards us or someone who thinks or believes differently. There must be some kind of hurtful action involved, even if it’s just mentally planning harm that may never come to fruition.

dictionary.com also takes it to the impersonal level where it defines a nation, or peoples who are hostile against one another as enemies.

So why dig into this?

I think it’s just as important to understand what a true enemy is as to understand true friendship, why we define relationships with these words, as well as how enemies have been viewed throughout history. As we have talked about before, languages change. Dose an enemy still mean what it did one hundred years ago? How about a thousand?

Latin root: in (meaning ‘not’) + amicus (friend) = inimicus, according to WordSence.com

So the Latin root word for enemy literally translates to not friend. The word enemy is also related to Old and Middle English words as well as Old French words as well. It is also related to the word ‘fiend‘ which dictionary.com defines as literally “Satan; the Devil, and a diabolically cruel or wicked person.

I think it’s safe to conclude that the definition of ‘enemy’ has stayed relatively constant thought the last several thousand years. Unlike the word ‘friend’ I’m not seeing evidence of its definition expanding. It may actually be shrinking or becoming more defined as our modern understanding of different cultures and people changes. As our towns, cities, countries and continents become more diverse we are being forced into closer proximity with people who are vastly different from us, and finding them not nearly as hostile as we used to. Different doesn’t automatically = potential enemy anymore. Though we still view strangers with a healthy dose of caution, I think the general view is shifting towards viewing newcomers as potential friends first, or at least indifferently.

So, the grey middle between enemy and friend is widening, even as friend welcomes in a wider definition. But there is one question itching the back of my mind. Can a true enemy, someone who is actively pursuing harm to someone else, ever be reconciled to that individual and achieve true friendship?

The shift from an enemy to a friend has always been a rare occurrence though history. Does it still happen in our modern world as relationships grow and morph to include online spaces and as in-person interactions decrease? Have YOU ever experienced this? If so I would LOVE to hear from you.

Have you ever considered yourself someone’s enemy? Is it different to BE an enemy than it is to HAVE an enemy? What do You think?

Copyright ©2023 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Previous Post – On Friendship: My First Friend

Previous Post – On Friendship: What is it?

Previous Post – On Friendship: The Word Friend

Previous Post – On Friendship: Introduction

Forthcoming Post – On Friendship: Receiving and Giving Forgiveness

Forthcoming Post – On Friendship: In Person

Forthcoming Post – On Friendship: Virtual Friendship

Forthcoming Post – On Friendship: Friend Doesn’t Mean Project

websites referenced in this post


Success! You're on the list.

The Dreaded Red Mark

I love the adventure of writing. I love exploring and experiencing the world or emotions I write about. But when I finish that first draft, editing must always happen.

I hate seeing those nasty confidence crippling red marks. Let me tell you, for someone who is mildly dyslexic, it’s never just one red mark. More than likely, it is a sea of them I feel I could drown in. This has been my number one challenge in completing my work.

“I have learned that taking one bite at a time and chewing it well is important.”

So how do I face those red marks?

Slowly, methodically, and with help.

I have learned that taking one bite at a time and chewing it well is important. One word, one-line, one paragraph, one page. If I get ahead of myself, I give up.

I also pace myself. Sometimes we are unaware of the energy spent while creating something, and the drain it can have on our being. I fix one word, then remind myself to blink and breathe. After tackling the next sentence, I do the breathing over again, and maybe step away from the screen to get a drink.

I am a much slower writer than most people, but that’s okay. We all create in our own way and honestly, I’m not trying to be anyone else’s competition. (Unless I am writing for a contest, that is.) I dread those red marks, but there is also nothing quite like the satisfaction of seeing them disappear from my work.

Trying is also something I do slowly. I often make mistakes while trying to fix things. Rarely is a second draft enough. More likely, a third, fourth, or even fifth draft happens before the piece is ready. The longer the project, the more drafts needed.

“So those red marks keep me humble and social.”

I rely heavily on grammar software as it’s difficult for me to see mistakes like the use if the wrong ‘to’ in a sentence. I don’t know if I could even attempt writing if it wasn’t for programs like Grammarly and ProWritingAid. But even after I reread things myself, and let the computer to its thing, I always need at least one other person to help. Software just can’t pickup all my mistakes.

So those red marks keep me humble and social. If my husband isn’t available to read through my work, I have to reach out and ask someone else. This is always awkward for me. Will they roles there eyes at my mistakes? Will they be able to see past the red to the heart of things? Can I trust them?

Oh, those little red marks teach so many things…

How do you handle the dreaded red mark?

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Success! You're on the list.

The Give and Take of Creativity

Most things in life are a give and a take relationship. We breathe in oxygen, and give out carbon-monoxide. That feeds the plant life around us that turns it back into the oxygen we breathe again.

Give and take is the foundation of life, and it’s no different for creativity and writing.

As a writer, I take things in from life around me. The people, the places, the nature, the communion of prayer. These things feed my spirit and enable me to spend energy on writing. I pour what I receive across the page as I try to give order to thoughts and paint pictures with words.

Next comes a really amazing part. Other people take in the things that I write. Maybe not many, but a few. Even one is enough to continue this relationship.

Is their reaction negative or positive? Either way, there is an exchange.

They read my words, they take them in. Is their reaction negative or positive? Either way, there is an exchange. Do they leave a ‘like’ or a comment? Do they simple ghost through the pages of my website? Even if they do not engage with me, they give a tinny bit, a marker that says, someone was there and read my work. It’s a spark of energy shared with a computer keyboard or phone screen.

This give from a reader can go even further if they use their finances to bless me and buy my book or artwork. That is a HUGE give. It tells me not only have they read my work, but they found it worthy enough to spend money.

The financial blessing enables me to give more of my writing to the world, and maybe even bless my family with a little extra for household necessities.

So the branches of give and take grow even wider.

There is a step further a reader can go, they can share my work. By leaving a review, they bless my heart with words of encouragement, or maybe correction. Either way, there is give there. They give not only to me the writer but also to others who might read their review and decide if my work is worth the time to read it. So the branches of give and take grow even wider.

It becomes a circle when the writer takes in enough again to create something new. A cycle, and that cycle is a beautiful thing.

My personal place is that cycle changes. Sometimes I am the writer, but I also experience being the reader. I take in what other people create and give back to them. Another connection, a community of creativity.

When was the last time you gave?

What did you create? When was the last time you engaged? Did a writer’s words stir your emotions so much you had to share them? When was the last time you bought a book or artwork? Did you even know you are a part of a web of creative energy?

You are.

We all are.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Success! You're on the list.

The Art of Remembering/The Edge of Humanity Magazine

I have always enjoyed learning about others, other cultures, other peoples, other places. The Edge of Humanity Magazine has been a great place to see glimpses of others, and their daily lives, through the photography, art, poetry, and articles they highlight. I particularly enjoy the art, and poetry.

Since it’s a magazine I have followed for quite a while, it thrilled me when they accepted my non-fiction piece ‘The Art Of Remembering’. They have added it to their Human Condition category, and I feel it’s found a great home there.

‘The Art Of Remembering’ was written in memory of my Grandfather. My fondest memories are of him working in his carpentry shop, making his own forms of Art. I encourage you to visit The Edge of Humanity’s Website, read my contribution, and also enjoy the huge library of humanity they share.

Mary Grace van der Kroef

Success! You're on the list.

Our Need for Your Story

Did you know you have a story to tell?

It doesn’t matter how average you think you might be, you have a unique story all your own. No one has lived the same life or felt the same emotions. No one sees the world in quite the same way as YOU.

It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, nor your level of education. There is a story inside of you, and it’s important.

What’s your story?

It could be as simple as that casserole recipe your grandmother taught you how to make, and the things you both talked about while she taught you.

It could be your story is more of a question, something you long to know the answer to, and your quest to find it. Did you find it? Will you find it? Maybe, maybe not. That is a story.

Sure, not everyone may want to know your story. But for every story, there is an audience. Be it ever so small, it’s there.

Telling your story takes courage. It means being vulnerable. Are we brave enough to tell our stories? Not all stories are dark and painful, dramatic, or awe-inspiring. Some are quite ordinary.

Have you ever watched the movie, It’s a Wonderful life? I know many people who make it a tradition to watch this classic in the bright glow of a Christmas tree. It truly is a powerful story. But what makes it so powerful? Simple truth.

An ordinary life has reach and meaning beyond itself. We all touch others in ways we do not realize. We leave holes when we are gone, that we will never know about. There are stories behind our ordinary selves. Beautiful stories, stories worth hearing, reading, and seeing. Stories we can and should learn from.

What’s your story?

Don’t discount it and it’s power.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Success! You're on the list.