Friday, 2 August 2013

Topic Of The Day: It’s Nothing, We’re Just Friends on Twitter

- By Atoke
Was it 13 years ago that the world was buzzing with the “Y2K” expression? A whole 13 years! Where did the time go? From “tapping” Nitel lines, to trying to decide whether one should get a Samsung TruI or a Motorola M35… telecommunication has really evolved in Nigeria. Looking back from the time of Hi5, the first MySpace and Whisper2U, social media and online friendships have blossomed over and beyond imagination. Now, dating websites are advertised on television; all you need is the internet and the future is born.

The ease of forming friendships and bonds (real or imagined) is one of the interesting parts of new age social media. You find people “setting P” (building romantic relationships) on Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry Messenger, just to name a few. Many times, these relationships are simple friendships and completely kept within the realm of the internet. Other times, the relationships transcend into the physical and people hook up. A lot of times, you hear things like oh “He’s just my Twitter friend” and you’re corrected that the relationship is just an online one. This is simple, right? At least, it appears to be until you find out that your ‘real-life’ spouse is upset about a certain online friendship that you have.

About 10 years ago, I was part of a discussion web board called TalkNaija. I met some of the most important people in my life now on TN. Over the years, the TN crowd fizzled out and moved on but about 11 of us have remained close and have migrated to Blackberry Messenger. What has kept the core TN group together over the years even though we’re scattered across the globe? Our ability to laugh at each other and help each other through binds. Someone once asked me if our online friendships were ‘real’ and if I didn’t think that such online relationships had a way of clashing with actual physical relationships.

She narrated a story of how she found out that her husband had an alternate life on Twitter. According to him, the girls he talked to were just his friends on Twitter and he had never disrespected her in anyway. I told her not to jump to conclusions that some of my friends on TN were married. Heck, we watched them transition from single guys to married folk on TN and it would be foolish to assume that all our crazy bants on TN were a sign of adultery or anything untoward. She said I was just naive.

What do you think about online relationships and friendships? Are you averse to your spouse having online friendships? Is there a line that must be drawn for social media friendships? For instance, if we’re dating, should you slow down on your Facebook interactions or Twitter direct messaging? Do you want to know everything your spouse is getting up to on his/her smartphone?
Would you show your spouse the kind of conversations you have with your e-friends? If not then is it safe to say the friendship isn’t completely harmless then?

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