Do you want to be my Cyber Friend?

The Cyber Friends’ project is dedicated to my most intimate and closest cyber friends.

The B Shot by a Stranger project brought me a new world of thoughts and feelings, the contact with so many different people from all over the world, their issues, their talks with a stranger, their openness, vulnerability… their naked loneliness. With this project watching and shooting them like a curious voyeur, and specially listening to them, made me understand the meaning of loneliness which I never felt before, but also another so contemporary issue: cyber relations, or even cyber friendship.

Boris (Paris) by ©GBénard 2012 (Paris)

On Facebook or in any other social networks, people add you as “friend” even if you never heard about them. And people are happy to have 3.684 friends. Cyber friends who they never talked with and probably will never know in real. People just add you as friend not even saying, “Hi, I’m the Wonder Woman“. They just add you and you get a new cyber friend. And they get you as cyber friend as well. Both are happy as they made a new friend. Going further you have chat roulettes and webcam rooms where you randomly meet people you’ve never seen before. Some of them after 10 mins chatting will end up being one more cyber friend of yours on Facebook too.

Joan1 (Barcelona) by ©GBénard 2012 (Paris)

I never understood the new concept of friendship and how it changed the old concept of truly friendship. It is as easy to end a relation, as it is to start a new one. After all we don’t stuck into our school, job, bar, neighborhood to meet friends, we can have the whole world to know people, to call them friends.

It’s interesting to study this phenomenon not only psychologically but also sociologically. The real isolation of one that can be opened to the world protected by Internet. The fear of suffering. The safety game, as internet comes like a condom, it is the most safe sex you can have, in which you can’t get pregnant nor STD’s. It is a safe place because you play in your own room, with the heater on or the air-conditioned, with no need to go out or spend money in bars, motels and beers.

Aziz (Indonesia) by ©GBénard 2012 (Paris)

But one of the craziest things is that it is very easy to delete the friend, to turn off, to block someone who was – till they said something wrong-, your best (cyber) friend. People no longer fight for someone else. People add and delete and block. People not even fight for themselves.

This is now the second generation using Internet to network and to socialize, but surprise surprise!!… There are lots of not so young people who are lonely and left them going into this new concept of friendship. And they’re happy with it because it’s the only one they can have. Loneliness is the real issue, no matter the age, culture, place, sexuality or religion. You’re lonely and you need a friend, even if a fake one in concept. Someone you never hugged and who will never hug you in real life. But he is your best (cyber) friend.

Gerla (Amsterdam) by ©GBénard 2012 (France)

I’m a hugger; I need to feel the other, to pass many things with them till I can call someone a friend. And this can be quite vicious. How can someone be fulfilled with sex cam not touching, not feeling and not smelling the other’s skin? The long distance relations. The virtual emotions that people use to take as serious as the real ones. But hey, we can just turn off internet or skype or… block the other when we feel fulfilled. When we have better things to do.

I do have several cyber friends with whom I talk and laugh and have brainstorms and do many other things with. From Amsterdam to New Zealand since many years ago. And once in a while I meet one of them who, by coincidence is in the same spot of the world as you are. The expectations can lead to different reactions. Sometimes after few years of being best cyber friends when they meet in real the magic goes out and they delete each other from their best cyber friends’ list.

Francisco (Brasil) by ©GBénard 2012 (France)

I always used webcam professionally, to show my works to clients who live far, to have working meetings, to discuss work or ideas, to do collaborations worldwide, some of them with people I’ve never met in my life. I always used webcam also with friends I have all over the world, as I travel and them too. To talk with my family in my country of origin once I live abroad. To chat with good friends with whom I spent great time and are now far for some reason. And most recently to do the project “B Shot by a Stranger“.  I do have too few friends I never saw before and have no idea if one day I’ll meet them in real, and some of these friends are in my friend’s list since ages. Maybe I’ll never know them; maybe I like them just to be cyber friends.

Mateus1 (Brasil) by ©GBénard 2012 (France)

The Cyber Portraits project is about our idea of others that we call friends but whom we never saw, smell or felt in real life. We see them through webcam, we chat, we can do everything… but it’s a relation that is often blurred, pixeled and specially that can be deleted or cancelled anytime, not leaving traces, like in a real one.

I want to explore these cyber relations just with cyber portraits, almost as mug shots when a cop takes a picture of your face front and profile with a code number and a name, and you’ll become a file that can be easily deleted from the archives.
Like any cyber friend. Each one on their side of the glass wall.

Mirroring yourself.

text and photos by ©GBénard

Joan (Barcelona) by ©GBénard 2012 (Paris)

Do you want to be my cyber friend? I need to make 200 new cyber friends.
Volunteers are needed for this project. Please contact me through Facebook.