Are Facebook friends real?

She has liked most of your pictures, laughed at the corniest of jokes and always commented with an encouraging word at the memes you post on social media. Recently, you got an anniversary reminder that it’s been 10 years since you and Eva have been friends.

You even got an accompanying cute video detailing all the likes and memories you guys have shared, but ironically you two have never met in real life.

That is Facebook for you. The space and place where billions of people with mutual friends and shared interests, link up everyday to commiserate and laugh about anything topical and current; to congratulate each other on the birth of babies, getting married, graduations, promotions and new job opportunities.

Indeed it seems these people know just as much about you as your family. At times, they actually know more since they are more invested than people you are related to and actually read when you pour your heart out in a tearful post about something that has you happy or hurting.

A Facebook friend can be anywhere in the world and still feel like a next-door neighbour

Sometimes they send you messages saying that they feel your pain and that they are there if you need to talk and it is comforting to know someone has your back.

And then you remember, that this individual is a face on the other side of a computer. A Facebook friend can be anywhere in the world and still feel like a next-door neighbour. In fact, it is easier sometimes to share with a semi-stranger than it is with people you have an address for and see daily.

They may be more objective and less judgemental which is what you crave and what they provide; that listening ear that really accepted your point of view while occasionally interjecting with ‘but have you ever thought about …”, therefore giving you another perspective without being pushy.

Facebook friends can be real if they take the time to invest in the friendship

Being a real friend is not about how many likes you get or how often they comment. It is reading a post, knowing instantly when something is wrong and offering support even if it is coming from a thousand miles away. In real-time, a genuine friend offers unconditional love and reaches out faster than 5G connectivity.

Yes, Facebook friends can be real if they take the time to invest in the friendship and check on you, even when social media seems to depict that everything is perfect. A friend does not literally have to hold your hand to ensure that you are not alone. They can be just a click or a Facetime away.