A year ago, a “friend” was someone I’d almost certainly met in person. We had come to know one another through shared personal experiences. Keeping in touch was enjoyable, even if through infrequent phone or email exchanges.

One year later, having used Twitter and the Brainzooming blog in a strategy to “meet” people globally, my concept of friendship has been dramatically expanded.

Now, there are “friends” I have:

  • Never spoken to directly and may never speak to via phone, and certainly not in person.
  • Come to know through shared online experiences, typically in messages of 140 characters, that have nevertheless provided memorable insights into their personalities.
  • Been excited to see show up (via their avatars) and communicate with on Twitter, the blog, or in my email.

This expanded group of friends has enriched my life tremendously. They’ve shared their expertise, talents, ideas, creativity, reading lists, suggestions, and personal cheerleading so generously. I communicate with many of them weekly, and know them better than IRL people I’ve been around for years.

All this is a remarkable transformation in perspective, especially considering for a number of these new friends, I don’t even know their full names.

In what innovative ways has your definition of “friend” been changed by social media? – Mike Brown