Referring to your local social circle, be it at school, at work or at your gym as “IRL” (in real life) may seem logical at first, but – to me – it’s actually rather bad taste, and in some situations downright offensive.
The fact that it’s often used carelessly makes it even worse in my opinion.
I remember a time when people thought of their regular and online lives as two separate entities. When I was a teenager, we were routinely warned against sharing too many details of who we were in the “real” world. The last thing you wanted someone to do was to figure out where you lived, worked, or went to school. They could find you that way!
Our world has changed a lot since then.
The two spheres are melting into one. When I meet someone new, I google them as soon as I get home to see if anything interesting turns up. It’s actually disappointing to not find any social media accounts, blogs, or websites about them.
The friendships I’ve developed online are equally important to me as the ones I’ve made offline. I even met my spouse on a now-defunct message board back in the day. We moved seamlessly between typing words on a screen and talking face-to-face. Sometimes we still have entire conversations online if one of us has a sore throat or other life circumstances make it easier to type than to talk.
There’s no competition between the two. You can appreciate both ways of keeping in touch with others.
It’s all real life.