In real life
In reall life
Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop

There’s a depth and intimacy to online friendships and relationships which I love. Raw emotions, passions; hearts-on-sleeves openness. Relationships, friendships and even acquaintanceships far richer than some of the interactions I’ve had with family. But there’s something which happens offline which is just as meaningful, too, especially when it comes to friends, family and children.

In the years since I first dialled up an internet connection, I’ve come across friends who have struggled to have babies, lost pregnancies and been to hell and back with medical problems, difficult challenges in parenting (and difficult children). Some of my friends have survived relationship implosions and mourned lost parents- Often relayed online in ways that have given me a much greater insight into the lives of people than I’d have imagined possible.

And yet it’s easy to miss out: Between the Facebook status updates and the Twitter rejoicing/cries for help, the intimacy experienced is only as great as my ability to pay attention (or stay logged on). There have been friends who have suffered without me noticing, even as I’ve happily uploaded pictures of fun times with my children.

It’s common for “friends” on Facebook to bump into each other and chat in real life. During a real conversation, it’s clear that not everything makes it online. No matter how many times you update your status, there will always be words unsaid and feelings unexpressed.

As much as we’re an online space for parents to “Meet Parents like You”, it’s great to spend real time with friends and family, filling in the gaps.  How about calling your friends instead of just reading something which sounds depressing and waiting for the fallout? You may be surprised at the quality of the conversation. Status updates are great as conversation-openers.

I’m guilty of letting friendships lapse, and of letting family-relationships cool, too. If I want to have a healthy relationship with my kids when they’re older, I’d better start making sure we’re not just reading each other’s BBM statuses and conning ourselves that we’re keeping in touch...

Here’s a suggestion: Some families have a no-technology day, once a week: No internet, no TV, no cell phones- just human beings, in real life. Could you survive that?

There’s a popular quote: “Don’t judge me by my past- I don’t live there anymore”- perhaps we can add to that: “Don’t just look for me online- I don’t live only there”.

On a happy note: My amazing colleague at Parent24 announced her engagement this weekend! I’ve known her as a friend (online and IRL!) since before I came to work here, and admire her as a woman with endless integrity and the envious ability to find humour and joy in everything she sees.

Congratulations, Robi and Daniel and all the best for your future!

How do you keep real life relationships flourishing?
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