Imaginary Friends


My friend Whitney and I have an interesting and complex relationship. We’re like night and day, opposite in just about every way you can think of. We fight all the time, arguing over significant things and insignificant things, things that matter and things that don’t. Sometimes we’re playful, and sometimes we’re serious.

And I love her like a sister. In fact, she might as well be my sister.

We had one of our playful yet serious arguments yesterday when I brought up this very guest post.

It went a little something like this:

“When I get home this afternoon, I need to work on a guest post for my friend Bernie’s blog.”

Whitney cocked her head at me. “Your friend Bernie?”

“Yes, my friend Bernie.”

“Online friends aren’t real friends.”

To which I replied: “Well, they certainly aren’t imaginary if that’s what you’re implying.”

Her nostrils flared a bit, signifying that she was starting to get into the debate. “Katie, they aren’t real friends, and you don’t really know them. It could be anybody sitting behind that computer screen. You can’t really call strangers friends.”

But Bernie’s not a stranger. Bernie’s…well, she’s Bernie.

She makes me laugh about things like Zumba and Mr. Bernie’s haircuts.

She makes me proud when she does her interviews for the Museum of Women’s History and when she writes a sweet story about a wooden plate that gets published.

She listens when I have a bad day, always offering advice and comforting words.

She’s Bernie of Minnesota, married to Mr. Bernie of Montana.

It’s true that I can’t reach through the computer screen and touch her, but despite having never physically met her, she’s still touched me in so many ways.

It’s hard for anyone who hasn’t experienced an online friendship to understand it. It’s hard for Whitney to understand it, and knowing my past experiences with friendship, she’s justifiably protective of me. But I met my husband online; if anyone’s a proponent of an online relationship, it’s me.

What makes a friendship real instead of imaginary? Tangible instead of virtual?

People like Bernie. Genuine people who have genuine stories to tell and genuine connections to make. It’s people like her that transcend hundreds of miles and make “imaginary friendships” into real ones, friendships that will last a lifetime and expand our horizons and our hearts.

Thanks, Bernie, for being one of the least imaginary friends I’ve ever had.

What kinds of connections have you made online? Do you think of your online friends as “real” or “imaginary”?



  1. Very real indeed! Even moreso than my facebook friends!

  2. Wonderful post! My husband jokes about my “friends who live in the computer” whenever I bring an online friend up in conversation. But, you know what? I have found some amazing friends online, especially Bernie. I have become closer to the people in my computer than I’ve even become with “real” friends. Maybe it’s because I’m shy in person, maybe because I’m a “weirdo crunchy hippie mommy” that those who live in my area think is nuts… My guess it’s because the group of friends I’ve made online accept me for who I am and understand that, even if they don’t “get” my strange ways and beliefs, they understand that it’s OK to be different.

  3. This was a great post! I know how hard you two worked to the the non-mommies community together, that makes her a real friend. :) When I first met Benie it was almost like we had know each other for years and just kind of picked up where we left off talking in a past life, I think that is one of her gifts. I know she would love to meet all her fellow blogging buddies and maybe someday at a blogging convention we can all sit down and talk, and talk, and talk, and talk…….

  4. I completely agree that online connections are real. I’m brand new to blogging and so am developing relationships there. But some in my twitter stream are very real. And from all over the world, Wales and Scotland to name a couple. As well as NYC and right here in CA. I love it. Nice post.

  5. Excellent post, Katie. You are on a roll this week. This one made me emotional almost as much as reliving your grandpa’s funeral. You’re a good egg.

  6. benzeknees says:

    BTW – I’m a new follower, referred by Beth Ann & I’m enjoying your posts!

  7. benzeknees says:

    I agree, there are people out her in the Blogosphere I consider as friends even though I’ve only been at this for a couple of months. I think when you share things with people & they share things with you, they can be considered friends.

  8. Well said. I’ve never met Bernie either, but I certainly consider her a “real friend.” We’ve exchanged e-mails and confidences and uplifted each other and been there for each other. Those encompass the essence of friendship. Real? Yes. Real!

  9. I TOTALLY agree with you! Bernie is one of the most real people out there and we are all so blessed to be a part of her life, aren’t we? I love what you wrote!!! Have a great day! :-)

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