Who says Twitter relationships are not real?

I write this through tears that are clouding my vision.   I received news today of the passing of one of my Twitter peeps @lilyhill.  While “Lily” (Roberta Frazier) and I never had the chance to meet face to face, we did share some lovely conversations and I always looked forward to seeing what she had to say.  In some ways it seems odd to feel the profound sadness that has come over me at the passing of someone I really had never “met”.  But, I do feel a deep sadness.  A sadness for Roberta’s family – my heart aches at the thought of her daughter having to type that final tweet from her mother’s account – A sadness at a life lost way too early; A slightly selfish sadness that I will no longer be able to avail myself of Roberta’s wit and wisdom.  And an even more selfish sadness at the reality of my own mortality.

What strikes me even more is that I am feeling this deep sadness for a person that I only knew electronically.  There are people who try and claim that the relationships we develop through Twitter are not “real”.  They are a result of snippets of information that we chose to share with the world and have no basis in the deep understanding necessary for true relationships. I say they are wrong!  In the almost 2 years that I have been on Twitter I have been blessed to interact with people all over the world that I now truly call FRIENDS.  Some I have met in person and some I have not, but that does not lessen the feelings I have for these people.  Some of the people I now consider my dearest friends, that I consider my extended family, I met on Twitter.

The bits and pieces of our lives that we daily share with each other on Twitter are the building blocks for those relationships.  The times that we laugh together, support each other, educate one another, just chat, share virtual hugs, share wisdom & insight and on days like today, cry together. This is what builds those relationships.  It is wonderful when proximity allows us to translate those into “real life” friendships, but I don’t feel any less for those I am close to on Twitter who are in Florida, Missouri, California or Australia than I do for those right here in my own beloved Philadelphia.  I can feel their love, kindness, support and caring as strongly as if they were sitting here next to me.  Twitter has allowed me to grow beyond my own little geographical world.  It has allowed me to touch and be touched by the power of people from everywhere. For that I am eternally grateful.  I wrote “An Open Letter to My Tweeple” back in February 2008 describing what Twitter meant to me.  Those thoughts and feelings are amplified exponentially with each day that I spend engaging in conversations and interacting with my community on Twitter.

So to those who would say these relationships are not real – I on behalf of the Twitterverse say you are very, very wrong.  The sadness I feel right this moment at the passing of @lilyhill is proof.


  1. I have been online many years (more than I care to admit!) and I have always had a few people with whom I felt incredible affinity from first contact. Some of those folks from way back I still keep in contact with – our lives shared electronically – but still very real, very strong relationships. In fact, I met my husband online. Did work for him. Later that collaborative power we had became more. So that pull is very real.

    I have friends now I have met through Twitter who are like soulmate type friends. Meeting them in person only makes it sweeter, but it doesn’t make it a more “real” friendship.

    I will never minimize my friends by tagging them as “online” or “not real”. We live our lives, share our lives, triumphs and successes. We laugh, we cry, we snark and vent. If that’s not friendship – I don’t know what is.


  2. What a beautiful sentiment = yes, our “connection” with people we’ve never met can be as loyal and deep and as rewarding as those “real” relationships. I wish I had known her.

    Take time to mourn your friend. When you’re ready, reflect and celebrate the memories of your friendship. Keep a little piece of @lilyhill within you. One day, you’ll feel her spirit and smile.

    My thoughts are with you, her friends and family.


  3. You said it so well! I’ve been Tweeting and corresponding with @lilyhill for a while. Roberta Frasier was one of the first subscribers to my paralegal ezine. Her enthusiasm and her wisdom were amazing. I’ve lost a friend I never met but felt I knew so well!


  4. I was so shocked to learn of @lilyhill’s passing that I held your beautiful tribute to her close to my heart and worked on my own attempt to describe our loss on and off all Memorial Day weekend (fittingly). I hope you don’t mind me quoting you, because you said it best.


  5. I don’t know what caused me to Google my mom’s name today. Maybe it was because I was reading several articles on Michael Jackson’s death.

    Regardless, I’m cross-posting this anywhere I can.

    It has been nearly a month since my mom’s death. I still don’t know the full details, only what I knew before. I was not home when it happened.

    Mom/Lillyhill/Ro/Roberta was cremated and her ashes are currently at the Grant Funeral home. There has been no funeral yet; private or public, altho the obituary says otherwise.

    My grandparents do not want a funeral, I and her friends do.

    I do not have direct access to her Twitter, only mobile access via her phone. I was able to get temporary access to her Gmail and gain her Facebook.

    I will be attempting to organise a funeral open to ANYONE who wants to come. She had too many friends in real life and otherwise. My hands would be worn to nubs if I tried to write, seal, and stamp invitations for everyone.

    Any news/updates will be posted via Facebook. If you don’t have her, add her. “Roberta Frazier” same profile pic as always.


  6. I adore my twitter relationships as much, if not more than most “real” face to face interactions. When I finally meet my twitter friends, the friendship is often deeper and more profound. I’m thrilled to be your friend Gloria and hope much for the power of the written word. This is what attracted me to you immediately that:
    1.you can write
    2. you have a powerful “old” soul
    3. you smile when you speak-and write
    4. you’re able to be “in your face”
    5. you live in my favorite city (philly) (no, not NYC!)
    6. my cat is on my arm (what does this have to do w/anything?…much)
    7. you are very powerful-thus my interest
    8. you can get things done
    9. you are unafraid
    10. you are you!


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