Can An Internet Friend Be A True Companion?

As we spend more time online, we are bound to make friends there. But can an Internet friend be as good a friend — or even better — as one you meet in person?

In some ways, it makes sense that you could find a connection with someone online. After all, without geography limiting the people you can interact with, you are bound to meet people that share your interests — like an obscure band, a niche artist, or a cult movie — that you might not meet otherwise.

In addition, we have a multitude of ways to communicate over long distances. Everything from hand-written letters to phone calls, from text messages to video conferencing. As a result, if the motivation to stay in touch with someone exists, there are several different ways to do it.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How can we encourage debate?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘What is the value of inefficiency?’


However, each one of us has a physical presence. We evolved to be attuned to the physical presence of someone else. This might include unspoken communication like body language, pheromones, and body heat. There is something about the touch of another human being that produces a chemical reaction inside your body. And it is not just limited to intimacy.

So what do you think? Can a friendly relationship between two people be sustained solely through e-mail messages, Zoom calls, and social media posts? Or is a true, deep, thoughtful friendship dependent on physical proximity? Can an Internet friend be a true companion?

Related questions: What makes a friendship? What do you get out of social media? How can we engage in meaningful conversation? What makes a community?

Pen Or Pencil?

When composing a letter or writing a paper, when completing a crossword puzzle, when making a shopping list… do you prefer a pen or a pencil?

Share why if you wish.

Pen Or Pencil?

What Makes A Good Question?

Here at the Intellectual Roundtable, we’re all about asking a question. Three new questions each week, plus a podcast where talk about older questions.

Therefore we’ve had the opportunity to spend a fair amount of time thinking of what to ask and how to ask it. With our archive of nearly 500 questions, inevitably some have been good but others may have missed the mark.

In your mind, what are the ingredients that go into making a good question? Is there a particular topic, or maybe a way of framing it?

Of course, there are plenty of other occasions for making queries than just a blog on the internet. How might that construction change if you are, say, talking to someone at a party (let’s pretend this party is of the virtual variety)? Or conducting an interview? Perhaps an icebreaker at a team-building event?

If you think about some of your Intellectual Roundtable favorites from over the years, what do they have in common? What makes a good question?

Related questions: What questions should we be asking? What is your favorite Intellectual Roundtable question? How are we doing?

Create Or Consume?

Many of us are looking for ways to occupy the time we are spending at home. Do you prefer to create things, or consume things others have created? There are plenty of examples of each available: learn to play an instrument or livestream a concert. Film a YouTube video or binge-watch a TV show. Cook or get take out. Read or write.

Share why if you wish.

Create Or Consume?