Here's my response--
They are real! And they evoke emotions as deep as any I’ve experienced in face to face life.
For example, Sheryl and I have met face to face only twice for about a total of 1 hour in the 6 years we have collaborated together; our book was written totally in the cloud. Yet we know each other’s family; we’ve laughed at the antics of her dachshunds and we’ve shared deeply personal stories. As we Skyped one day I laughed so hard that tears flowed down my cheeks as she described her “wardrobe malfunctions” to me.
Anne Davis, an educator in Georgia whom I’ve never met, and I laughed over comments made by her students for Harley, our Shepherd who mentored them on his blog . She and I commiserated over the health issues of our spouses, we problem solved how to deal with inappropriate comments on student blogs, and she grieved with me when we had to say good bye to our beloved Harley.
When I read stories from community members about successes of their students, tears of happiness fill my eyes. When co learners in eCourses I facilitate experience “aha” moments, I smile –very, very broadly. My husband catches those smiles and wonders—and often I read to him. During affirmations at the final webinar of the Connected Coaching eCourse, my voice catches, tears fill my eyes at the deep relationships learners developed and their extraordinary learning; inevitably there is at least one other who shares tears too. The feelings and emotions I’ve shared virtually are as palpable as any I’ve experienced.
Online relationships are real, are deep, are meaningful, are fulfilling.