Are Online Friends Really Friends?

 

batik on silk by Nicki Chen

Most of the bloggers listed in the blogroll on your right are people I’ve never met in the flesh. We’ve never hugged or shared a cup of coffee. And yet, through our blogs, we know each other pretty well. And we care about each other, I think.

So yes, I’m going to say that my blogger friends are real friends.

That’s why I have to make a confession. Until a few weeks ago, I’ve neglected to put together a blogroll, one of the basic ways bloggers support each other. I should have done it a long time ago.

Today in an attempt to make up for past negligence, I’d like to tell you a little bit about some of my blogging friends, beginning with the “Asian Connections.”

In 2013 when I started my blog, I was looking forward to the publication of my novel Tiger Tail Soup the following year. And since the novel’s story takes place in China, I wanted to get acquainted with other bloggers with a China connection. By a stroke of luck, the first person I found was Jocelyn Eikenburg, who writes Speaking of China.

photo courtesy of Jocelyn Eikenburg and Jun

Jocelyn is at the center of a large group of Western women with Asian connections. Many of them live in China and are dating or married to Chinese men. She calls them AMWF (Asian men white female) couples.

Rose in Xiamen

Finding and following those AMWF bloggers was real eye opener for me. My Chinese husband and I did know other interracial couples during our thirty-year marriage. But in most case I can think of, the man had left his home country before he found his Western bride. The idea of single women moving to China and finding Chinese husbands there was inconceivable because for many years, China was locked away behind the Bamboo Curtain.

Times definitely have changed. One example of the change is Marta (Marta lives in China). Marta moved to China from Spain in 2006 thinking she wouldn’t stay very long. Eleven years later, she’s still there, working as a translator and tester for a mobile games publisher. She and her Chinese husband live in Suzhou with their “chubby” golden retriever. Marta and C got married this past May. In this post, she shares wedding pictures and tells all about their Chinese wedding.

Timo (Crazy Chinese Family) is one of only three men on my Asian Connections list. He and his beautiful Chinese wife live in Germany, but they met when they were living in Finland. One of Timo’s favorite subjects is the antics of his in-laws, especially his mother-in-law. (I assume she doesn’t read his blog. At least I hope she doesn’t.) Since the birth of his son and, more recently, his daughter, the in-law’s antics have to share space with news about the kids.

Constance, who writes Foreign Sanctuary, is from a small town in Canada. In 1999 she moved to Taiwan, where she now lives with her Chinese husband and their toddler. Constance is writing a memoir. And she’s a fantastic photographer. Here’s a small sample.

I’d like to tell you more about the blogs I follow, but that will have to wait for a future post. In the meantime, feel free to click on anything in my blogroll that strikes you as interesting and follow the link.

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About Nicki Chen

About Nicki Chen
Nicki Chen is a writer living in Edmonds, WA. Her first novel, Tiger Tail Soup, is set in China during the Japanese invasion and occupation, 1937-1945. She’s working on a second novel set in Vanuatu, a South Pacific nation where she and her late husband lived in the early ’90s.

blogging, China, expatriate life, interracial marriage, Tiger Tail Soup , , , , , , , , ,

30 comments


  1. Like you, I consider my blog friends, friends. I spent a lot of time in the blog world, not just writing blogs posts but also visiting, reading and commenting on blogs – there is just so much to be learnt from this and making connections here. It is heartening to see more mixed race couples these days, and living all over the world. Love the bloggers you mentioned in this post, and I’ve been following them for quite a while now. It is amazing how different all out stories are, be it on the home, relationship or professional front. Also, thank you for the mention of my blog in your blog roll 🙂

    I started my blog initially to publish my works on multiculturalism, and didn’t expect the blog to keep going for more than a year. Now it’s almost five years since I’ve been blogging, and interacting with bloggers like you is my favorite part about blogging.




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    • Hi Mabel. In five years, you’ve developed a huge following and lots of blogging friends. There’s a saying about the importance of what you put into a friendship. It’s obvious that you put a lot of effort into writing your posts and also into keeping up with the posts of your blogging friends.




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      • That is very nice of you to say, Nicki. Blogging has become a big part of my life, and so have many bloggers on here. To me, we can all learn so much through blogging when we come together. I always enjoyed your stories about you and Eugene, and also your day to day outings around your town today. A colourful life you have lived and are still living, and thank you for sharing 🙂




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        • I’ve also learned a lot from your, posts, Mabel. It’s funny. I wasn’t expecting to learn from you How to Enjoy and Have an Unforgettable Music Concert. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I already knew you saw Florence and the Machine. Anyway, that post about music concerts was one of my all-time favorites on your blog. Your concert photos are amazing.




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          • It is very kind of you to say, Thank you, NIcki. I thought I’d change up what I usually write on the blog. Maybe a few more different posts in the future 🙂 I like all of your posts, and how you weave so seamlessly between your life with Eugene, and today in the real world which you never seem to whinge about 🙂




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  2. I know more about my blogging buddies than I do about my next door neighbor! I’ve only met one so far but that’s ok. The connection is just as strong even without a face to face.




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    • Non-bloggers may not understand. In everyday conversation, I find myself referencing my blogging friends–what one said or the other did. Do you do that?




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      • Absolutely and then I feel sort of foolish, as if I’m doing on-line dating with someone in a country that ends in “stan” and I’ll never see. My husband is used to it now. I talk about you all as if we have been bffs for years.




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        • I know. I do feel a little foolish, but maybe it will become a common thing–like people walking around and seemingly talking to themselves when they’re using headphones or earplugs. I’m used to that now.




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  3. I’ve met some great friends while blogging. It’s lovely to have connections all over the world!




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  4. I do consider my blogging friends to be true friends. Throughout my years of blogging, I’ve met some fantastic people that I “talk to” daily or at least weekly. I know a lot about them and their families. I miss them when I don’t “see” them for a time. I have no doubt they are true friends.




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  5. Nicki, I continue to enjoy your blog and your lovely pictures. On this one I looked at all the blogs you posted and enjoyed each one; especially the one where the Mother-in-law did her laundry–which must be extremely embarrassing!




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  6. You know how I know my blogging buddies are real friends? Because The Ruby Ronin, one of the AMWF bloggers I follow, messaged me last night, desperate for wedding advice.

    So either I’m a friend or Dear Abby!




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  7. Haha, thanks for mentioning me, Nicki! I think online friends are definitely friends, and many days I don’t talk to anyone in “real life” except my husband and my dog (the disadvantages of working from home!), but I read news from and write comments for online friends. I am quite shy in person so for me it’s difficult to make friends in real life, but when I first meet people online then it’s easy. Then if I meet them in person it feels like I have known them for a long time. I still keep in touch with some people that I met through the internet many years ago! (And also with a penpal with whom I exchanged letters during my teenage years. We have never met in person!).




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    • When I was studying Spanish in high school, I was given a penpal in Santiago, Chile. Her name was Mirta Cepedes (accent on the first e). We stopped writing after high school. But I still think about her sometimes.

      You don’t seem shy to me, but then, writers are often a little shy in person. I am too. My late husband was very outgoing. He was the one who made all our social arrangements. Because of him, we went to many parties and dinners and had quite a few of our own, especially when we were abroad.




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      • To be precise, I am very shy in Spanish (when in Spain, talking to Spanish speaking people, etc), not so much in English, and not at all in Chinese, haha. It’s weird! Like I have a different personality in each language.

        C. is also the outgoing one in our household. He does sales so he is good with people, hahaha.




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  8. Thank you so much for the mention Nicki! I do feel like I have a lot of friends I’ve met online, even though we’ve never met. I live a pretty solitary life — without blogging and social media, I would never have had the chance to meet so many wonderful people like you. But I do hope someday I can meet my online friends, like you, in person. So if you’re ever in Hangzhou, China, please let me know! 🙂




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    • You’re so gracious, Jocelyn. On one trip to China with Eugene and some of his colleagues, we hit quite a few cities from Guangzhou in the south to Changchun in the north. Hangzhou and Suzhou were my favorites. Of course West Lake was a big attraction. But, despite your kind invitation, I doubt that I’ll travel as far as China again. It’s hard to imagine how many trips I took across the Pacific when I was younger. If you pass through Seattle, though, please give me a call.




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  9. Before I forget I want to congratulate you on the lovely batik on silk piece you’ve done. Gorgeous.
    And I agree with you about online friends being friends. We develop relationships with our readers, post after post.




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  10. Of course we’re real! 😀

    Thanks for including me on your blog roll, Nicki.




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