A good friend – online, of course – sent me a link to an article about shallow online relationships today, and how they can possibly be – dangerous? Relationships without strong connections, all too common on the Internet, can leave us feel lonely and lacking, even depressed. Indeed, surely the most we can expect from hundreds or even thousands of online followers is superficiality. Likewise, in our extremely busy lives, instant relationships that require no investment of time seem thoroughly appealing.There is, surely, a danger if people grow to expect that sites like Facebook and Twitter are indeed all that personal relationships have to offer, or that quantity is more important than quality. When returning to Twitter this week, I’ve found that a previous follower count in the thousands has meant very little at all. Perhaps only a dozen or so of those are worth being called friends. Only that number put in the legitimate effort that a genuine friendship required. There are many out there; the genuinely socially-inadequate, the predatory, the awkward, for which the element of disconnection which networking offers is appetizing. That cannot possibly be a good thing. There are, of course, exceptions. One, in particular, springs very readily to mind. An online acquaintance who, most certainly, connected with me most strongly; invested the largest possible amount of time and energy in our relationship; and through meeting online, something which would otherwise have been impossible, turned out to be thoroughly life-changing. None of that could possibly have happened if we hadn’t have met online. Perhaps there’s something to be said for this social media stuff, after all. It left us each with a lot to be desired. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not defending the social networking trends in any way. Your mileage may vary. But the addicted perhaps should take note. If we meet face to face, and you reach out to respond to that delicate chime your ‘phone makes for an incoming tweet, I’m apt to hit the thing with a hammer.