Close Friends or Virtual Strangers: Interrogating Young People's Conceptualisation of Online Friendships
Though the dangers of online life are widely known and discussed, both in academia and outside of it – dangers such as cyber-bullying, catfishing, revenge porn, identity theft – studies about how people (predominately young people) conceptualise their online friendships, and what they get from them, are less known. Through qualitative surveys and secondary sources, this paper aims to be an exploration of online friendship – how does it begin, how is it maintained, and why does it end? In what aspects is it similar to face-to-face friendship? Should our concept of friendship evolve to accommodate this technological advancement, or have social networks served to demonstrate what the essence of friendship actually is?