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These days, meeting new people online is easier than ever. Through social networking sites (SNS), you can befriend someone with just a click of the mouse. We already know some of our online friends from places like school. However, we also make friends online that we never actually see face-to-face. Nowadays, many of us have more friends online than we do in the real world. Are we entering a new age in which online friends replace offline friends?

Sociologists at Cornell University say no. A survey involving thousands of participants asked how many people they were willing to share their deepest secrets with. The average answer was two. Most of the participants had many online friends. But when it came to sharing intimate secrets, they only trusted “real” friends, the ones they met regularly offle. The results of the survey didn’t surprise the sociologists. They say online friends fil a unique need for people. For instance, imagine you post, “I’ve caught the fl,” on your online profie. You might get several responses from online friends: “Get well soon” or “I hope you feel better.” This kind of support makes us feel connected and cared for. However, when it comes to having a
deep discussion, nothing can replace real people.

The sociologists say that face-to-face interaction is still the most meaningful to us. Hearing the tone of a friend’s voice is more comforting than reading text. Also, seeing a friend’s expressions is more intimate than looking at emoticons. Real, live interactions like these are irreplaceable. So even if you have more than enough online friends, don’t lose touch with your offline ones.

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