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I  believe that scientists get it right when they state that most people  understand that there is a difference between virtual befriending and  real befriending. I think that one can have both virtual and real  friendships with the same people, but that a strictly virtual friendship  lacks the authenticity of a real friendship. As discussed in the  reading material, real friendships are of a deeper and more intimate  nature (Helm 2017). This is not to say that a virtual friendship is any  less valuable, I fell that virtual relationships are probably a good  thing for some people, people with social anxiety for example, but I  think that real human interaction is imperative emotional health and  wellbeing.
The reason there is an important distinction between  virtual friending and real befriending is the honestly and integrity of a  real friendship. While people can be deceptive in real life, it is more  difficult in practice that a friendship over social media. According to  Vernon, psychologists contend that up to 40% of the information put up  on social networking sites might be fabricated (Vernon, 2010, p. 105).  That number is quite astounding, nearly half of what is inferred from  one person to another in a virtual friendship may be false, or at least  exaggerated.

After reviewing the Stanford piece, it is difficult for me to gauge  how virtual friendships stand ethically. On the one hand, there is  certainly deception among virtual friends, but the question is really,  does it even matter? Shouldn’t we, as humans, assume that there is  inherent dishonesty in anything as artificial as a social media based  relationship? I would like to think that we know the difference between  what is real and what is not, and that deep down social media is as much  an entertainment venue as anything else.

References
Helm, Bennett. “Friendship.” Stanford Encyclopedia of  Philosophy, Stanford University, 7 Aug. 2017,  https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/friendship/#1.2.

Vernon, Mark. The Meaning of Friendship. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

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