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Friendships lost in cyberspace

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I used to believe that the internet is not a great place to start a friendship. It doesn't provide the proper environment for a relationship to flourish. Anonymity, lack of personal contact, distance, possible doubts and suspicions, could not be the right foundations for a strong friendship.

And then I found Sparkpeople.
The whole situation here reminded me of this quote I had read about friendship:

Here, in this community, we are all tied by the same problem, the same battle, the same goal. We're fighting the same enemy. We're here for the same purpose and we have similar stories and experiences to share. And that's how a friendship begins.

It may not be the same as with the people who have been in our lives for years, with whom we've grown together and who've seen us through different periods of our lives. But Sparkfriendships are important, too. They are people who give us support when we need it the most. They are people who don't judge us when we slip because they've been there, too. And they are people who don't know much about us and their opinion is usually not biased. Most importantly, they are people who witness our struggle to change our lives for the better. Can this be unimportant?

Today I went through my Sparkfriends' list. Mixed feelings were born. Several of them haven't been here for months or even more than a year. Some others have even deleted their pages. Vanished into thin air. I never learned whether they reached their goals, whether they really got some help, whether they found support somewhere else or just quitted. I really wish they 've found their way to fix anything they didn't like in their lives. And I can't help but wonder, did they ever understand what this is all about?

Sparkpeople is not only about counting calories and fitness minutes. It's not only about reading articles and learning from the experts. It's mostly about what its name says. It's about the people's spark. That's what makes the difference. The support, the shared experiences, the common disappointments, the mutual pride in success, the ability to say again and again "You too? I thought I was the only one!"
How much I wish I could explain the importance of this to all the people who abandoned this site without having reached their goals.

But what is a true friend?

Isn't this what Sparkfriends keep doing every day? Isn't this the reason we all come here?

So, I made a decision. I'll stop by all these friends' pages and remind them that even if they've ceased to believe in themselves, I still believe in them. They may never stop by and read it. But they may just make a quick stop and manage to use this little spark of motivation and reignite their passion for change. They may remember that they had made some friends here. Maybe of a different kind but really important to their changing process. And they might decide to come back and try again.

They just might.

And the friends lost in cyberspace may actually be reunited and re-inspired to continue.

It's definitely worth the try.

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
REGILIEH 11/16/2013 4:05AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BAKER1009 10/30/2013 8:56AM

    I'm behind, as usual, but what an awesome blog Elle!! emoticon

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    Great idea. I've noticed the same thing about my Sparkfriends as well. I'm not on as much as I used to be, but that's mostly due to limited computer time because I have a new baby. I hope we can become better Sparkfriends as time goes on :)

Thanks for commenting on my last blog.

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ANNIEONLI 10/21/2013 8:19AM

    So true! So true! and a great idea to put into practice! I have done that, and can say that 2 or 3 have come back to the fold for a third or fourth time. emoticon

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GEORGE815 10/20/2013 12:27PM

    Great caption by the Christian C. S. Eliot.

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WILDASTER 10/19/2013 1:04AM

    Thank you for writting this, I have missed some of my friends here too. I think I will spend some spark goodie points and spread some love to all my friends.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PAULALALALA 10/18/2013 9:12AM

    emoticon blog! What a nice thing to do! Wonderful description of SParkPeople. I agree!

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FITFOODIE806 10/18/2013 8:18AM

    You are so kind and thoughtful. Your words do make a difference for so many of us. Spark has changed how I look at online relationships. I know that I am more successful because of my involvement in Spark.

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TINAJANE76 10/18/2013 8:04AM

    I think this is something a lot of us "lifers" here on SparkPeople go through at one point or another. I've lost a lot of people who I started out with nearly four years ago and I wrote a blog a few months ago expressing many of the same points you've touched upon here. So I can honestly say I totally agree with everything you've written. Yes, the objectivity that comes with relative anonymity can ironically make it easier to share our struggles, but I also consider many of the people I've "met" here to be true friends and regard them as preciously as I do my 3-D friends.

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MICKEYH 10/18/2013 12:59AM

    You are so kind in heart. I so agree with you about friendship created here in SP and friends lost in space. I miss them time to time.. It's a great thing to stop by their page. WTG!!
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SUSUSUZZZIE 10/17/2013 11:22PM

    I really like your blog and I'm happy for stumbling across it today. I've been surprised how much I missed and still miss some who have touched me. I also know I've made choices that have put me on the other side of that fence - not because I wanted to hurt anyone but because I had to pull back. I had to find relief for the pressure I put on myself to reply to every friend's blog, comment otherwise. I know it was my own self-imposed pressure. I thank you for making me consider yet again the broader impact of my choice to pull back. It didn't come without cost. I wish I had more time for Sparking because it really is a special place! You are a special Sparker and your Spark friends are lucky to have you in their corner!

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_JODI404 10/17/2013 10:10PM

    SP is just an amazing resource, and I truly LOVE it for so many different reasons. It is hard to summarize or explain all this awesomeness to someone not familiar.

Your blog does an awesome job of really highlight the BEST of what Spark gives us and I agree -- it is our awesome, supportive friends and community.

VERY emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 10/17/2013 5:48PM

    What a great blog -- and what generosity of spirit you have to reach out to people "lost in cyberspace"! The Spark community is a terrific one: but some people do drift away/find it not to their liking/maybe get embarrassed by "failing" and give up. You may bring a few back to the fold!!

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LADYVOLSFAN1954 10/17/2013 5:31PM

    That is so wonderful and true! The support I've gotten from my spark friends has been amazing and I love them all. Sending you hugs for feeling like I do!
Ramona emoticon

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TRAVELGRRL 10/17/2013 4:50PM

    I have done that too, or sent a Sparkmail -- and sometimes I've found that the friend "lurks" but isn't posting any you are right, your efforts may just be what they need to come back. I think you've inspired me to revisit my nonactive friends! emoticon

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HOLLYM48 10/17/2013 4:16PM

    That is so wonderful! Spark people are the best and it is so sad when they fade away.
Keep on sparking!

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_BABE_ 10/17/2013 1:47PM


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SIMONEKP 10/17/2013 1:26PM

    great blog

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JITZUROE 10/17/2013 12:03PM

    GREAT BLOG!! I agree, and have been saddened to lose some spark friends who seemed to vanish off of spark completely. Maybe they are struggling, maybe succeeding, maybe angry? I don't know! I wish I knew since it left me with my hands up in confusion.
And I have made many a GOOD friendship here, to which I was honestly surprised. I was not expecting to find true friendship here, just more of a comraderie to cheer each other on. But I got so much more than that! I have met spark friends in person and even now chat with others on regular email almost daily. Much to my surprise, those are the people I tend to go to first with big news or a crisis. Wow, who knew?! But I am also very thankful for them being involved in my life.
An extra bonus of a great spark community.
And I adore you!!!

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LADY_MARIANA 10/17/2013 11:38AM

I have often mourned the loss of somebody on Spark People who dismantles the Spark Page and disappears. We have no way to reach them. I applaud you for continuing to try. There is a special sadness over losing a connection--there should be a particular word for it.

Spark Friends are the only people in the world who know the details of my struggle, who even know the number of pounds I carry, who see the side of me that is the most crucial one: the hurt, broken wounded person who is trying to pull herself together.

And yes, I really care about some of my Spark Friends as much and even more than I care about some of my face-to-face friends. It is difficult to say good-bye when you never know if the good-bye will be forever, or temporary, or if the person has left in triumph or in defeat. emoticon

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FUNLOVEN 10/17/2013 10:51AM

    I visit my Spark Friend list sometimes too and reach out to a few at a time.

Not long ago a Spark Friend who was on the same challenge as I seemed to suddenly drop off the grid. I went to her Spark Page only to discover it was no long there. I was surprised about how sad I felt that she was gone!

Sometimes, for the many reasons you listed, I like my Spark Friends more than the real life people I call friends!


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THOMS1 10/17/2013 9:48AM

    Great Blog. There have been a few friends of mine that have disappeared also and just this last year two of them reappeared. The two that I had been so worried about. This is not just a place to come to track nutrition and exercise it's a place of friendship and support. emoticon

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HOLLYL7 10/17/2013 9:23AM

    Really great blog. I have often wondered about certain Spark friends - especially those that were so kind to me when I first started. I think I will do a little poking around my friend list today also!

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LIZALOT 10/17/2013 9:15AM

    What a really, really nice blog, and how true it is. I also used to think it was a ridiculous notion to make friends with people you've never met, nor are ever likely to meet, but i changed my mind years ago, when i experienced that special friendship that arises.


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3AUSSIES 10/17/2013 8:56AM

    What a beautiful blog Eleni, it shows nurturing intuitive insight and am more than sure you will touch at least one where your supportive comments will make a difference!


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ISHIIGIRL 10/17/2013 8:21AM

    Thanks Elle. I am glad you are here to help spark me on!

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KELLIEBEAN 10/17/2013 8:05AM

    This is wonderful! Around last Christmas, I went through all of my friends that seemed to have dropped off and sent them a Christmas goodie hoping they were well.

Thanks for the reminder to do this again!

You are a great spark friend!


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CLAIREINPARIS 10/17/2013 7:59AM

    Such a special blog, Elle! Thank you. I could identified with everything you said, and I am often wondering also what happened to some of my Sparkfriends. It is really sad when they vanish in cyberspace and we never hear from them again. Like you, I never expected that 'virtual' friendships could ever become so precious. And to me, every success I have had on my journey on SP is linked to the amazing support I am getting from you all... I cannot even find words to say how grateful I am for it! Nor can I say how happy it makes me when I finally meet my Sparkfriends face to face, in Athens or elsewhere... emoticon emoticon

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KANOE10 10/17/2013 7:23AM

    I love your two pictures. You are so correct about the value of Spark People. The friendship and support is amazing. Thanks for an excellent blog and a reminder to reach out to others who may have lost the Spark.

The value of having people who understand the demands of following a healthy life is so important. The daily tiny choices we need support on are understood on Spark.
I also have missed my friends who have disappeared.

Comment edited on: 10/17/2013 7:56:26 AM

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MINNA72 10/17/2013 5:33AM

    This is wonderfully written! I concur with everything you've said. Thanks for reminding me what brought me here in the first place.


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GHOSTFLAMES 10/17/2013 4:49AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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POPSY190 10/17/2013 4:43AM

    emoticon emoticon And I enjoy the way SP transcends national boundaries and makes us realise our common experiences and challenges, regardless of age and place.

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Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.